BP may be required to pay the largest criminal penalty in US history to resolve the investigation arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. While the details of a settlement with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) are still under finalisation, an agreement could be announced later today, people with knowledge of the talks said.
BP confirmed today that it was in ''advanced discussions'' with the DoJ and the Securities and Exchange Commission over proposed settlements, but said a final agreement had not been reached and any deal would be subject to approval US courts.
A settlement would mark a step forward for BP as it worked on estimating the cost of the disaster in which 11 people died in the world's largest-ever accidental offshore oil spill.
The company would, however still face actions for civil penalties and damages from federal, state and local authorities, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.
That case is scheduled come up for trial on 25 February next year. BP had hoped to reach a resolution of all civil and criminal actions in a single global settlement but the talks had been complicated by disagreements among the various governments over how a settlement should be shared out.
Though Eric Holder, the US attorney-general, had in June 2010 said BP was under investigation for possible criminal charges, as of yesterday none had yet been filed.
Only Kurt Mix, a former BP engineer has been charged so far.