BP given green light for work in United States

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United States officials have lifted a ban on oil major BP winning federal government contracts in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico disaster in 2010.

The group said yesterday it had reached agreement with America’s Environmental Protection Agency, which will also see it withdraw a lawsuit challenging the suspension and open the way for it to enter into new leases in the Gulf.

Britain backed efforts to lift the ban and, in December, filed a statement to a US court considering the case that it “may have been excessive”. The company’s prospects are seen as important to UK jobs and pension funds.

BP has been suspended from performing any new government work in America since November 2012, after it agreed to plead guilty and pay a $4.5 billion (£2.8bn) for criminal charges over the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The oil rig accident killed 11 workers and spilled millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

BP has been banned for 16 months from leasing more offshore oil and gas properties and renewing fuel contracts with the US military.

Under the new agreement, 25 BP entities and its Texas-based oil production and exploration arm have been cleared to secure new government contracts.

The company said the lifting of the embargo cleared it to enter into new deepwater leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

The deal also means that, for five years, the company will have to abide by a series of ethics, safety and other requirements, while an independent auditor will verify its compliance.