BP Could Face Largest Fine in History for Deepwater Horizon Spill
A U.S. judge ruled Thursday that BP PLC (BP) faces a maximum fine of $13.7 billon for causing the largest offshore oil spill in U. S. history in the Gulf of Mexico.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ruled that the company dumped 3.2 million barrels of oil into the Gulf, which is less than the 4.2 million barrel estimate the government sought in its claim.
In a previous trial, Barbier found that BP’s exploration unit acted with gross negligence in causing the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. This decision triggered BP’s exposure to the maximum fines under the Clean Water Act. In a the third phase of the trial scheduled to be held next week in New Orleans, Barbier will determine the amount of the fines which could be as much as $4,300 per barrel, however he could set the fine below the maximum penalty.
In a press release, BP acknowledged the ruling and said, “the Court found that BP was not grossly negligent in its source control efforts.”
According to BP, the Court will be considering aight factors in determining the fine including: the violator’s efforts to minimize or mitigate the effects of the spill; the seriousness of the violation or violations; the nature, extent, and degree of success of any efforts of the violator to minimize or mitigate the effects of the discharge; the economic impact of the penalty on the violator; the economic benefit to the violator, if any, resulting from the violation; the degree of culpability involved; any other penalty for the same incident; any history of certain types of prior violations; and any other matters as justice may require.
BP believes that considering all the statutory penalty factors together weighs in favor of a penalty at the lower end of the statutory range.
BP is continuing to review the Court’s decision.