BP to pay $4.5 billion fine to resolve criminal and securities claims relating to Deepwater Horizon accident
HOUSTON -- BP has reached agreement with the United States government, subject to court approval, to resolve all federal criminal charges and all claims by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against the company stemming from the Deepwater Horizon accident, oil spill, and response.
“All of us at BP deeply regret the tragic loss of life caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident as well as the impact of the spill on the Gulf coast region,” said Bob Dudley, BP’s Group Chief Executive. “From the outset, we stepped up by responding to the spill, paying legitimate claims and funding restoration efforts in the Gulf. We apologize for our role in the accident, and as today’s resolution with the U.S. government further reflects, we have accepted responsibility for our actions.”
As part of the resolution, BP has agreed to plead guilty to 11 felony counts of Misconduct or Neglect of Ships Officers relating to the loss of 11 lives; one misdemeanor count under the Clean Water Act; one misdemeanor count under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; and one felony count of obstruction of Congress. This resolution is subject to U.S. federal court approval.
Thirteen of the 14 criminal charges pertain to the accident itself and are based on the negligent misinterpretation of the negative pressure test conducted on board the Deepwater Horizon. BP acknowledged this misinterpretation more than two years ago when it released its internal investigation report. According to BP, the agreement is consistent with BP’s position in the ongoing civil litigation that this was an accident resulting from multiple causes, involving multiple parties, as found by other official investigations. The remaining criminal count pertains to two BP communications made to a member of Congress during the spill response about flow rate estimates. As part of its resolution of criminal claims with the U.S. government, BP will pay $4 billion, including $1.256 billion in criminal fines, in installments over a period of five years. BP has also agreed to a term of five years’ probation.
Under the resolution with the Department of Justice (DOJ), a total of $2.394 billion will be paid to the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) over a period of five years. In addition, $350 million will be paid to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) over a period of five years.
Pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement, BP has also agreed to take additional actions, enforceable by the court, to further enhance the safety of drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico. These requirements relate to BP’s risk management processes, such as third-party auditing and verification, training, and well control equipment and processes such as blowout preventers and cementing. In addition, BP has agreed to several initiatives with academia and regulators to develop new technologies related to deepwater drilling safety.
The resolution also provides for the appointment of two monitors, both with terms of four years. A process safety monitor will review, evaluate and provide recommendations for the improvement of BP’s process safety and risk management procedures concerning deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. An ethics monitor will review and provide recommendations for the improvement of BP’s Code of Conduct and its implementation and enforcement.
Under U.S. law, companies convicted of certain criminal acts can be debarred from contracting with the federal government. BP has not been advised of the intention of any federal agency to suspend or debar the company in connection with this plea agreement. BP will continue to work cooperatively with the debarment authority.
In its resolution with the SEC, BP has resolved the Commission’s Deepwater Horizon-related claims against the company under Sections 10(b) and 13(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the associated rules. BP has agreed to a civil penalty of $525 million, payable in three installments over a period of three years, and has consented to the entry of an injunction prohibiting it from violating certain U.S. securities laws and regulations. The SEC’s claims are premised on oil flow rate estimates contained in three reports provided by BP to the SEC during a one-week period (on April 29 and 30 and May 4, 2010), within the first 14 days after the accident. This resolution is subject to U.S. federal court approval.
The aggregate amount of the resolution is approximately $4.5 billion, with payments scheduled over a period of six years. As of the end of September 2012, BP’s financial statements recorded a charge taken against pre-tax income in relation to the accident and oil spill of $38.1 billion. This charge included $525 million provided for the SEC settlement. This resolution is expected to result in an increase of approximately $3.85 billion to the $38.1 billion charge taken against income as of the end of September. BP’s financial statements as of the end of December 2012 will reflect this additional charge, as well as any other adjustments arising during the fourth quarter. It is anticipated that the cash outflows can be met within BP’s current financial framework.
BP says it will continue to vigorously defend itself against all remaining civil claims and to contest allegations of gross negligence in those cases. The remaining claims include: federal civil claims, including those arising under the Clean Water Act; federal and state Natural Resource Damages claims; private civil claims pending in MDL 2179 that were not covered by the settlement with the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC); private securities claims pending in MDL 2185; state economic loss claims; and miscellaneous private civil claims pending in other federal and state courts.Over the past five years, BP has invested more than $52 billion in the United States – more than any other oil and gas company, and more than it invests in any other country where it operates. The company employs 23,000 Americans and supports nearly a quarter of a million American jobs.
BP has to date spent more than $14 billion in operational response and clean-up costs. BP said it continues to monitor the Gulf and its shoreline, and the company has supported regional tourism, promoted Gulf seafood, and committed $1 billion to early restoration projects. BP also quickly set up a process to pay all legitimate claims and established a $20 billion Trust to assure Americans that the resources to pay claims, settlements, and other costs would be there. To date, BP has paid more than $9 billion to individuals, businesses and government entities and has already agreed to a settlement with the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, resolving the substantial majority of outstanding private economic loss, property damage and medical claims, which BP estimates will cost approximately $7.8 billion.