New York Times, By Julia Werdigier, November 15
London — BP, the British oil company, is expected to agree to criminal liability on Thursday in the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago and agree to a large fine, according to people close to the situation.
The company itself said it was in advanced talks with the United States about settling all criminal claims stemming from the spill.
BP said that discussions were ongoing and no final agreement had yet been reached. There was also no guarantee a resolution would be achieved and any agreement would have to be approved by the federal court in the United States, the company said.
“BP confirms that it is in advanced discussions with the United States Department of Justice and the Securities & Exchange Commission regarding proposed resolutions of all US federal government criminal and SEC claims against BP in connection with the Deepwater Horizon incident,” BP said in a statement.
In particular, this settlement, if it is reached, does not include what is potentially the largest penalty: fines under the Clean Water Act. The potential fine for the spill under the Clean Water Act is $1,100 to $4,300 per barrel spilled. That means the fine could be as much as $21 billion, according to Peter Hutton of RBC Capital Markets in London.
Also, Reuters: BP to pay record fine for 2010 spill: sources
The discussion do not cover federal civil claims, both BP and the sources said.
The sources did not disclose the amount of BP’s payment, but one said it would be the largest criminal penalty in U.S. history. That record is now held by Pfizer Inc, which paid a $1.3 billion fine in 2009 for marketing fraud related to its Bextra pain medicine.