US judge rejects BP's bid to cut maximum civil fine in Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill

A federal judge yesterday rejected BP Plc's bid to have the maximum civil fine that it could face over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill lowered, Reuters reported.

New Orleans District judge Carl Barbier upheld the federal government's position on the maximum civil penalty the oil major needed to pay as per the federal Clean Water Act. BP would need to pay $4,300 per barrel spilled, not the $3,000 it sought.

The decision meant BP could face as much as $13.7 billion of civil fines from the spill. The judge had not decided how much BP should pay, and it was not clear when he would decide.

The company has been trying to get its maximum civil liability reduce from $13.7 billion to $9.57 billion, or $3,000 per barrel, under the federal Clean Water Act.

Berbier had earlier reduced the company's spillage liability to 3 million barrels, 24 per cent lower than the claims by federal prosecutors, cutting the expected penalty by $4 billion.

The company was earlier found to have acted with "gross negligence" and "wilful misconduct" in the actions that caused the spill.

At the end of 2014, the BP's charges due to the the Gulf of Mexico oil spill had totaled $43.5 billion. An additional charge of $477 million was levied in the fourth quarter of 2014 towards provision for litigation costs, additional business economic loss claims and other costs.

In 2010, an explosion on Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the BP-owned Macondo Prospect, led to an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico waters over a three-month period (See: BP caught in the sludge of potentially worst oil disaster in US history).

The accident took a toll of 11 lives hundreds of marine species were affected.

Businesses and individuals have launched civil and criminal suits against the company and two phases of the proceedings into BP's alleged negligence and the amount of oil spill had been completed.