BP penalty: Fine for Gulf of Mexico spill capped

Oil major BP is likely to see its Gulf of Mexico fine capped at $13.7 billion (£9bn), far less than feared, after a court ruling in the United States.

11 workers died when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Picture: Getty Images

District judge Carl Barbier ruled that 3.19 million barrels were discharged after the rig explosion at BP’s Macondo well in 2010, one of America’s worst environmental disasters, that killed 11 workers. The figure is more than the 2.4 million number BP had argued for but less than the US government’s estimate of some 4.2 million. The government figure could have meant almost $18bn in maximum penalties under the country’s clean water act.

In a note, analysts at Barclays said: “The ruling is a step in the right direction of what appears set to be a long and hard-fought legal battle.”

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The decision comes on the heels of BP announcing hundreds of UK job losses amid the plunging price of oil.

Penalties for the Gulf spill are to be determined in a trial set to open on Tuesday.