BP's $4 Billion Settlement Accepted by Judge
It's official: a $4 billion criminal settlement from BP has finally been approved three years following its oil well blowout and spill in the Gulf of Mexico that left 11 dead—the worst environmental disaster in US history.
The federal judge in New Orleans who made the decision, Sarah S. Vance, had heard dozens of emotional testimonies of victims demanding both financial retribution as well as stronger legal punishment leading up to the agreement.
At the hearing on Tuesday, Luke Keller, a vice president of BP America, said “BP understands and acknowledges its role in that tragedy, and we apologize — BP apologizes — to all those injured and especially to the families of the lost loved ones. BP is also sorry for the harm to the environment that resulted from the spill, and we apologize to the individuals and communities who were injured.”
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Since the incident, BP has paid over $24 billion on various settlements and cleanup efforts. Although its stock fell drastically after the accident, it has recovered by more than 40 percent since.
It's not over yet. Although criminal charges have been resolved, BP still faces significant pollution fines (up to $21 billion), while a trial to resolve the remaining civil litigation is scheduled for the end of February.
Related story: Ticking Time Bomb: Unexploded Munition at the Bottom of the Gulf
The company continues to contend that the spill was in part the fault of its two contractors: Transocean and Halliburton. Transocean has paid $1.4 billion in penalties to settle civil and criminal claims, but Halliburton has yet to reach any settlements related to the accident.
Although today's settlement marks the history books as the largest ever criminal resolution in US, the judge's move to OK the plea deal will save the company from a longer, more expensive trial.
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