Fire boats battle the fire aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig in 2010.(Photo: Anonymous)
As many as four staff members from the British oil company BP will be arrested and the company will be fined between $3 billion and $5 billion
to settle criminal and other claims with U.S. agencies over the Gulf of
Mexico well blowout two years ago, the BBC reported Thursday.
Associated Press quoted a person familiar with the deal as saying two
BP employee face manslaughter charges in the case. BP, in addition to
paying billions in fines, will plead guilty to obstruction for lying to
Congress about how much oil was pouring out of the ruptured well, the AP
BBC business editor Robert Preston reported that BP is
"thought to be relieved" that it has reached a settlement because the
potential liability was unlimited.
NBC News reported
that Department of Justice officials confirmed that a deal had been
reached, but did not elaborate except to say that it would involve a
large fine and criminal charges.
The Houston Chronicle reported that an official announcement on the settlement would be made later Thursday.
reported settlement would dwarf the largest previous corporate criminal
penalty assessed by the Department of Justice - the $1.2 billion fine
imposed on drug maker Pfizer in 2009.
The explosion and fire
aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20, 2010, killed 11 workers
and set off a spill which continued for 87 days, fouling large areas of
the southern coast of the United States.
The rig sank and an
estimated 200 million gallons of crude oil gushed out of the well,
fouling extensive areas of the southern U.S. coast and disrupting
tourism and commercial fishing
In advance of an expected
settlement, BP said in a statement that "no final agreement has yet been
reached" and that any such deal would still be subject to court
approvals, the Associated Press reported.
In its earlier
statement, BP said any proposed settlement would not include civil
claims under the Clean Water Act and other legislation, pending private
civil claims and state claims for economic loss.
BP has booked
provisions of $38.1 billion to cover its liabilities from the incident,
but the company has said the final cost remained highly uncertain. BP
also recently announced that it expects to make the final payment this
year to a $20 billion trust fund to cover damage from the blowout.
March, BP announced a settlement estimated at $7.8 billion with more
than 100,000 individuals and businesses for medical and economic losses.
January 2011, a U.S. presidential commission found that the spill was
caused by time-saving, cost-cutting decisions by BP, rig owner
Transocean and cement contractor Halliburton.
In September last
year, a team of Coast Guard officials and federal regulators concluded
BP bears ultimate responsibility. Their report found BP violated U.S.
regulations, ignored crucial warnings and made bad decisions during the
cementing of the well a mile beneath the Gulf of Mexico.