Four years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, energy company BP was found guilty of gross negligence and willful misconduct for its role in the spill that cost eleven people their lives.
According to the ruling issued Thursday by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, BP Exploration & Production (BPXP) is subject to enhanced civil penalties under the Clean Water Act.
The company may have to pay billions of dollars more in civil penalties, since, pursuant to the ruling, the government can almost quadruple penalties to an estimated USD18 billion.
BP subcontractors Transocean and Halliburton were also found “negligent”.
“BP strongly disagrees with the decision issued today (September 04) by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana and will immediately appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit,” BP said on Thursday in a statement.
“The law is clear that proving gross negligence is a very high bar that was not met in this case. BP believes that an impartial view of the record does not support the erroneous conclusion reached by the District Court,” the energy company added.
According to BP, the Court has not yet ruled on the number of barrels spilled and no penalty has yet been determined, adding that it will fight for a lower penalty.
“The statutory maximum penalty is $1,100 per barrel where the court finds simple negligence and $4,300 per barrel where the court finds gross negligence or willful misconduct,” BP went on to say.
BP has already agreed to pay USD4 billion in penalties and fines in connection with what is known as the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
Overall, total civil and criminal settlements, along with cleanup and related costs has cost BP USD 43 billion, including the USD 3.5 billion set aside for the Clean Water Act penalty.
Based on the estimates of the US government, a total of 4.2 million barrels was spilled into the Gulf.
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