On November 15, the Department of Justice announced that British Petroleum (BP) will plead guilty to a variety of criminal charges and pay a $4 billion penalty in connection with a 2010 oil spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico after an explosion on the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon.
According to Attorney General Eric Holder, BP has agreed to plead guilty to 11 counts of felony manslaughter, obstruction of Congress and violations of the Clean Water and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts.
Simultaneously, the London-based oil company reached an agreement to pay $525 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to settle charges that it committed securities fraud by releasing false information about the amount of oil being spilled into the Gulf.
The company still faces a number of additional liabilities. A federal judge is currently reviewing a proposed $7.8 billion settlement between BP and over 100,000 Gulf Coast residents and businesses. Meanwhile, federal and state officials continue to seek billions of dollars to address environmental damage caused by the 2010 spill.
David Uhlmann, director of the environmental law and policy program at the University of Michigan, told The Associated Press that, although the case resulted in a record-setting fine, BP could have faced even harsher penalties, due to the immense impact of the oil spill.
Project consultants can help companies plan for possible contingencies
A more thorough consideration of the potential liabilities that could stem from a drilling accident may have spurred BP to make additional investments in well safety during the early stages of the Deepwater Horizon project. In turn, this could have kept the company out of its current predicament.
Companies that are in need of such analytical expertise can benefit from working with a firm that provides financial project consulting services.