US court accepts BP guilty plea in Deepwater Horizon tragedy

A US court accepted an agreement by BP to plead guilty for its role in the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill which killed 11 men, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

A US court accepted an agreement by BP to plead guilty for its role in the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill which killed 11 men, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

BP will pay $4.0bn over a period of five years, during which time the company will serve probation.

At the District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Vice President of BP, Luke Keller, apologised for the 2010 disaster.

"We - and by that I mean the men and the women of the management of BP, its board of directors, and its many employees - are deeply sorry for the tragic loss of the 11 men who died and the others who were injured that day," he said.

"Our guilty plea makes clear, BP understands and acknowledges its role in that tragedy, and we apologise - BP apologises - 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 apologise to the individuals and communities who were injured."

The Gulf of Mexico well burst into flames during the final phases of drilling, causing the largest offshore oil spill in US history.

BP pleaded guilty to one misdemeanour count under the Clean Water Act, which triggers a statutory debarment, preventing a company from entering into new contracts or new leases with the US government that would be performed at the facility where the violation occurred.

It will not, however, affect any existing contracts or leases the company has with the US government.

Neither will the debarment impact on the group's discussions with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding BP's eligibility for new federal contract and lease awards from the US government.

"BP continues to work with the EPA in preparing an administrative agreement that will resolve suspension and debarment issues," the company stated.

The EPA announced a temporary suspension of numerous BP entities in November 2012 following the group's entry into the plea agreement with the Department of Justice.

BP said it has made significant changes since the accident to enhance safety throughout its global operations.

The group is drilling in the Gulf of Mexico again after the government moratorium was lifted.

The government has awarded BP more than 50 federal leases since the Deepwater Horizon tragedy.

BP is the largest investor and deepwater leaseholder in the Gulf of Mexico with more than 700 gross blocks and seven rigs in operation.

The oil giant has invested more than $52bn in the US over the past five years.

Shares fell 0.13% to 475.00p at 8:06 Wednesday.

RD

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