Friday, November 16th 2012 - 00:42 UTC

BP pleads guilty to Gulf of Mexico spill and will pay a record 4.5bn

BP Plc agreed on Thursday to plead guilty to a raft of charges in the deadly Gulf of Mexico spill and pay a record 4.5 billion dollars including the biggest criminal fine in United States history. Three BP employees were also charged, two of them with manslaughter.

We believe this resolution is in the best interest of BP and its shareholders” said Carl-Henric Svanberg, BP chairman

Attorney General Eric Holder: “the largest single criminal fine and the largest total criminal resolution in the history of the United States”

The BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig ablaze. Image: U.S. Coast Guard.

The settlement with the federal government came two and half years after the fiery drilling-rig explosion that killed 11 workers and set off the US largest offshore oil spill.

In announcing the deal, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said the tragedy “resulted from BP's culture of privileging profit over prudence”. BP will plead guilty to charges involving the 11 deaths and lying to Congress about how much oil was spewing from the blown-out well.

“We believe this resolution is in the best interest of BP and its shareholders” said Carl-Henric Svanberg, BP chairman. “It removes two significant legal risks and allows us to vigorously defend the company against the remaining civil claims.”

The settlement appears to be easily affordable for BP, which made a record 25.8 billion in profits last year. And it will have five years to pay. But the oil giant still faces several billion dollars in additional claims for damage to people's livelihoods and the environment.

Separately, BP rig workers Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine were indicted on federal charges of manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter, accused of repeatedly disregarding abnormal high-pressure readings that should have been glaring indications of trouble just before the blow-out.

In addition, David Rainey, BP's former vice president of exploration for the Gulf of Mexico, was charged with obstruction of Congress and making false statements. Prosecutors said he withheld information that more oil was gushing from the well than he let on.

Rainey's lawyers said he did “absolutely nothing wrong.” And attorneys for the two rig workers accused the Justice Department of making scapegoats out of them. Both men are still with BP.

“Bob was not an executive or high-level BP official. He was a dedicated rig worker who mourns his fallen co-workers every day,” Kaluza attorneys Shaun Clarke and David Gerger said in a statement. “No one should take any satisfaction in this indictment of an innocent man. This is not justice.”

The settlement, which is subject to approval by a federal judge, includes payments of nearly 2.4 billion to the US National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, 350 million to the US National Academy of Sciences and about 500 million to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which accused BP of misleading investors by low-balling the amount of crude that was spilling. It also includes nearly 1.3 billion in fines.

“This marks the largest single criminal fine and the largest total criminal resolution in the history of the United States,” Attorney General Eric Holder said at a news conference in New Orleans. He said much of the money will be used to restore the Gulf.

Holder said the criminal investigation is still going on. Before Thursday, the only person charged in the disaster was a former BP engineer who was arrested in April on obstruction of justice charges, accused of deleting text messages about the company's handling of the spill.

The largest previous corporate criminal penalty assessed by the Justice Department was a 1.2 billion fine against drug maker Pfizer in 2009.

34 comments Feed

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1 Captain Poppy (#) Nov 16th, 2012 - 01:00 am Report abuse
It is not enough.....period.
2 GeoffWard2 (#) Nov 16th, 2012 - 01:57 pm Report abuse
Following all the previous payouts,
there is now the $4.5billion
..... then there will be all the vulture claims now that the company has taken the plea.

It would be interesting to speculate the course of events were the company a USA-based USA company.

Oh, I am feeling cynical today!
3 Captain Poppy (#) Nov 16th, 2012 - 04:04 pm Report abuse
There needs to be more criminal prosecutions. The damage to the environment is immeasurable
4 British_Kirchnerist (#) Nov 16th, 2012 - 06:28 pm Report abuse
On this I'm with the Americans. Of course some on here will think that makes me a traitor too...
5 MistyThink (#) Nov 16th, 2012 - 06:40 pm Report abuse
4.5 $ billions is not enough

should be at least 10 $ billions + no drill licence in North America.
6 isolda (#) Nov 16th, 2012 - 07:58 pm Report abuse
is time for BP to pay for such crime.
7 briton (#) Nov 16th, 2012 - 08:34 pm Report abuse
was it not operated by Americans at the time,

or am i misled.
8 joe_blog (#) Nov 16th, 2012 - 09:32 pm Report abuse
excuses, excuses, excuses,
typical of the wimp brits!
9 Captain Poppy (#) Nov 16th, 2012 - 09:33 pm Report abuse
Under the direct management of Haywood and all his engineers. All SOP comes from the top down. On top of the diasaster, Haywood makes insulting statements after statements during the crisis. My favorite was.......“This has not been easy, I want my life back!” SO did the people killed, the fisherman that lost their livelyhood and everyone that lived along the coast of the US Eastern Gulf of Mexico.
While I do not think it's a Britsh thing, it's was a corporate thing, a poorly managed corporate process......period. Enough people were told what was going on and the inferior products being used. The Gulf was not the only place BP had severe accidents.
10 Ayayay (#) Nov 16th, 2012 - 10:02 pm Report abuse
My state doesn't oil drill, we make premium bucks from being tje cleanest & greenest.
But I think the Americam Deep South shares responsibility. They were PICKETING, demonstrating, to get the rigs turned back on, because you can make $50k a year with no education.
11 briton (#) Nov 16th, 2012 - 10:04 pm Report abuse
thanks for the replies.
12 A.J.Rimmer (#) Nov 16th, 2012 - 11:03 pm Report abuse
yeah, us nasty Brits, the only company to pollute the Gulf.......

hang on a minute, i'm certain other countries have also,, infact, i'm very certain that another oil spill happened there?? I wonder what they were fined?

America, in a recession, and needing money me thinks.

What better way is there than to take from others, BP, Samsung etc etc (Biased me thinks).......

Is there a legit American company out there that hasn't sued, or tried to sue someone?

And yes, it was American Technicians and workers, and parts i might add, which all failed. But BP being the bigger people accepted responsibility. and will pay.

Name another nation that pays??
13 Captain Poppy (#) Nov 16th, 2012 - 11:18 pm Report abuse
Who is blaming the Brits? I hardly think Britain is a mere corporation.
14 Raven (#) Nov 17th, 2012 - 10:29 am Report abuse
BP (which long since ceased to be a British company) wont sweat over this judgement even if the fine was 5x as much. They make so much money each year, they can easily afford it.

What should be drawn to light is, although they were made to clean up the mess in this case, the oil companies when extracting crude in less developed countries get away with making this kind of mess every year. eg Nigeria.

Google 'nigerian oil spill' for some enlightenment.

If they were made to operate in the same way as they will now have to in the USA, you can be damn sure the profits posted by the oil companies wouldn't be anywhere near as big. But as ever, they seem to find a way to get out of their responsibility. Look at Bhopal, still a toxic mess decades after Union Carbide should have cleaned up.
15 Captain Poppy (#) Nov 17th, 2012 - 12:37 pm Report abuse
All oil companies need to be holden to international standards of operations. But more important than that, we need to get off of oil and combustion would end wars, pollution, ozone issues
16 Raven (#) Nov 17th, 2012 - 01:39 pm Report abuse

As soon as someone comes up with a cheap way to produce and store liquid hydrogen, we can eliminate the vast majority of oil usage very quickly. This is why we need more children studying STEM subjects at school the world over to help crack the problem like this and the many others we face. Hopefully soon, the hydrogen production/storage problem will be solved and cheap power generation can become universal.

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, and when used as a fuel, it combines with oxygen to produce water. That's all. No nasty pollutants. :)

I don't know how this would affect the stability of the Middle East though with their prime export being virtually valueless overnight.
17 Captain Poppy (#) Nov 17th, 2012 - 03:20 pm Report abuse
I am an American and was a teen during our so called “energy crisis” back in the 70's and it was nasty.....a good 35 or so years ago. I have always said and firmly believed that the crisis should have been a wakeup call, at least for Americans that dependence on crude will be our heroin. She should have then put our resources into alternatives and we would have been there by now. We went to to moon in 8 years.....we can certainly find a new way. Now it's political and oil is the biggest business ever.
I know some people that consult with the people in the middle East. The are already planning a post oil world. Have been for some time. I am not sure what it is to them.
18 Raven (#) Nov 17th, 2012 - 05:01 pm Report abuse
From another forum I read, the far right members of the GOP and their followers debunk all the climate change philosophy, insist on the 'drill baby drill' phrase and cry foul at anyone who thinks that we need to look at alternatives to oil. Unfortunately, until such time as the far right in American politics can be convinced about the need for change, it's going to be down to other nations to develop a viable alternative and the USA which could be at the forefront of developing these new technologies, will be left behind, dragged down by the 'drill baby drill' crowd.
19 Captain Poppy (#) Nov 17th, 2012 - 06:18 pm Report abuse
Raven that is correct.....they also quited that is a women was raped, it was Gods will. The GOP has become aimless without direction. The November elections came and went, the GOP lost his election as many others........not to mention the White House and losing congressional seats. They are suddenly more conciliatory in talking to the White House, embracing the concept of increasing revenues and spending cuts and re thinking their outlook on life. But then.........they are professional politicians.....
The real issue is that with a population of over 316 million, it is tough to get a consensus and please everyone.
20 mohamed yamin (#) Nov 17th, 2012 - 08:44 pm
Comment removed by the editor.
21 Raven (#) Nov 17th, 2012 - 11:12 pm Report abuse
'' They are suddenly more conciliatory in talking to the White House, embracing the concept of increasing revenues and spending cuts and re thinking their outlook on life.''

The GOP certainly need a rethink and this looks to be a good start. Fighting the Democrats over every bill will ruin the US for sure.

I just wonder what the far right of the GOP will make of this. From the forum I read which is full of that type, they will be spitting blood that ''the RINOs are working with the Demoncrats and sending the USA into the abyss, bowing to the 47%''.

Quite how the GOP will deal with that I don't know, but the far right will be kicking and screaming all the way, in outrage that Republicans could work with Democrats especially with the far rights' anti christ as POTUS. The next ten years are going to be a difficult ride politically for the USA, but the next six weeks in which the Fiscal Cliff NEEDS to be sorted aint going to be pretty. I just hope sense prevails and the country can claw it's way back into the black financially, with both sides working together as a well oiled machine.
22 Captain Poppy (#) Nov 18th, 2012 - 12:19 am Report abuse
I love the buzz words of the US media that carries around the world. Post election word of the year is “fiscal cliff”
Knowing what happened is simple, I always liked the KISS principle. Bush sent us to two wars, borrowed the money, cut taxes and the housing “buy and sell” market collapsed.
98% of Americans make under 100k, how they can drink the kool aid of Republicans is beyond me. Than you have the Democrats who want to give everything to those who do not have it. We need to realize that there will always be people who do not have what others have. The real cliff the polarization........but I see the Republicans are conceeding and know they need to change and modernize. But now they extreme Democrats feel empowered and are shaking their balls at the Republicans and want revenge after all the No nonononononononono votes on everything. Go figure
23 Raven (#) Nov 18th, 2012 - 12:46 am Report abuse
The US media certainly know how to spread a buzz word or two out :D

The battle between the extremes of either side remind me of this Monty Python sketch.

How both sides will re-find the centre ground with the extremists tugging on the party rope is going to be difficult, but something I hope that they can do, and without causing collateral damage on the way.

We might have divided politics here in the UK, but I don't envy just how divided the extremes are in the US. The divide in the UK is tame in comparison!
24 Captain Poppy (#) Nov 18th, 2012 - 03:13 am Report abuse
What we really need is public financed campaign laws.....but it will never happen
25 Ayayay (#) Nov 19th, 2012 - 01:56 am Report abuse
@25 We're FIFTY different regions, so, it happens :) Beyond that, our whole CONTINENT gets along.
26 ProRG_American (#) Nov 19th, 2012 - 05:59 am Report abuse
They got away lightly, the scumbags.
27 GeoffWard2 (#) Nov 19th, 2012 - 09:30 pm Report abuse
a) What amount do you think they should have paid?
b) Give your justification for this amount, if you feel like it.
c) If it was a USA company, do you think the amount should be less or more?
d) If it was a Mexican company, do you think the amount should be less or more?
28 Captain Poppy (#) Nov 20th, 2012 - 01:08 am Report abuse

#28 is an argentine.....sussie. I would not pay her any mind. As an American I don't feel the origin of the company that is responsible for such a mess, or where the mess was made should have any bearing on the punishment.
Exxon paid a sizable fine of the time for the Alaskan disaster , 150 million for a 261,000 barrel spill. They also paid 11,000 Alaskans 300 million, averaging 27,ooo each in 1989 dollars. That was for a drunk captain. 23 years later, fisherman still struggle, you can still find animals with crude on them, globs wash on the shoreline, not even mentioning the health issues. The impact was devastating. BP poured almost 5 million barrels of crude into the Gulf. That was faulty equipment, materials and overlooking problems and bypassing safety. The USA bears responsibility as well, hence the low fine. Inspectors were seriously over worked and undermanned in order to “drill baby drill”. Despite what Tony Hayward stated...“the ocean is big, the oil will disappear”, the future impact will never be known until the future arrives. I think when we start holding CEO's and Directors criminally responsible with a path to prison all corporations...foreign,domestic, oil or not, will continue to operate in the same manner as always with the profit motive securely anchored. Also without regards or balance to it's environment, not meaning nature and where the level of due diligence given is proportional to the level and stage of development of the country it is operating in i.e., less developed equals less costly standards of safety. Jail time for the CEO that does not have a macro understanding underneath him will change things. Jail for the Directors that cannot control their CEO will change things. It's time to stop scapegoating middle managers. Everything someone in the lower echelon does always starts at the top.
29 agentscrewed (#) Nov 20th, 2012 - 08:38 pm Report abuse
# 28 ,,,,,,,con/capt.piss aka briton the nigger
is nice to dump my crap in mercopress
the port-a-john is full
30 Kameron de gallina (#) Nov 20th, 2012 - 09:15 pm Report abuse
i am the UK PM,,,,,,, i am scare
31 Captain Poppy (#) Nov 20th, 2012 - 09:21 pm Report abuse
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Sussie where arrrre you
32 Kameron de gallina (#) Nov 20th, 2012 - 09:41 pm Report abuse
i am the UK PM
33 Srta.Sussie (#) Nov 21st, 2012 - 12:34 am
Comment removed by the editor.
34 Captain Poppy (#) Nov 21st, 2012 - 11:31 am Report abuse
Sussie.....let's see how long?

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