U.S. judge approves BP’s $4B settlement for Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion
New Orleans, LA, United States (4E) – A U.S. federal judge Tuesday approved the $4bn settlement of criminal charges between the Justice Department and British oil giant BP PLC over the Deepwater Horizon accident in 2010.
BP is scheduled to return for a huge trial at a Louisiana courthouse on Feb. 25, which will consolidate several remaining lawsuits filed against the company for being responsible for the worst environmental disaster in the U.S.
The company has pleaded guilty to 11 felony counts of manslaughter linked to the deaths when the drilling rig exploded, one felony count for inaccurate account about the oil spill’s size, and several environmental misdemeanors.
Eleven people were killed when the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon drilling rig blew out on April 20, 2010, which unleashed about 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, contaminating beaches in five states and paralyzed the region’s fishing and tourism industries.
The company has spent more than $14bn during the spill response and the cleanup that followed, has created a $20bn trust fund for claims for damages costs and committed early restoration projects worth $1bn.
BP has already spent $9bn in payouts to individuals, businesses and government entities that were affected by the oil spill.
A BP spokeswoman said that the ruling was handed down by Judge Sarah Vance in New Orleans and victims of the explosion and their families were given the chance to speak their opposition to the settlement during the hearing.