BP today announced that it has reached agreement with the United States government, subject to court approval, to resolve all federal criminal charges and all claims by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against the company stemming from the Deepwater Horizon accident, oil spill, and response.
“All of us at BP deeply regret the tragic loss of life caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident as well as the impact of the spill on the Gulf coast region,” saidBob Dudley, BP’s Group Chief Executive. “From the outset, we stepped up by responding to the spill, paying legitimate claims and funding restoration efforts in the Gulf. We apologize for our role in the accident, and as today’s resolution with the U.S. government further reflects, we have accepted responsibility for our actions.”
In eliminating the possibility of any further federal criminal charges against the company based on the accident, BP has taken another significant step forward in removing legal uncertainty and can now focus more fully on defending itself against all remaining civil claims.
“We believe this resolution is in the best interest of BP and its shareholders,”said Carl-Henric Svanberg, BP’s Chairman. “It removes two significant legal risks and allows us to vigorously defend the company against the remaining civil claims.”
Terms of resolution
As part of the resolution, BP has agreed to plead guilty to 11 felony counts of Misconduct or Neglect of Ships Officers relating to the loss of 11 lives; one misdemeanor count under the Clean Water Act; one misdemeanor count under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; and one felony count of obstruction of Congress. This resolution is subject to U.S. federal court approval.
Thirteen of the 14 criminal charges pertain to the accident itself and are based on the negligent misinterpretation of the negative pressure test conducted on board the Deepwater Horizon. BP acknowledged this misinterpretation more than two years ago when it released its internal investigation report. Today’s agreement is consistent with BP’s position in the ongoing civil litigation that this was an accident resulting from multiple causes, involving multiple parties, as found by other official investigations. The remaining criminal count pertains to two BP communications made to a member of Congress during the spill response about flow rate estimates. As part of its resolution of criminal claims with the U.S. government, BP will pay $4 billion, including $1.256 billion in criminal fines, in installments over a period of five years. BP has also agreed to a term of five years’ probation.
Under the resolution with the Department of Justice (DOJ), a total of $2.394 billion will be paid to the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) over a period of five years. In addition, $350 million will be paid to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) over a period of five years.
Pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement, BP has also agreed to take additional actions, enforceable by the court, to further enhance the safety of drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico. These requirements relate to BP’s risk management processes, such as third-party auditing and verification, training, and well control equipment and processes such as blowout preventers and cementing. In addition, BP has agreed to several initiatives with academia and regulators to develop new technologies related to deepwater drilling safety.
The resolution also provides for the appointment of two monitors, both with terms of four years. A process safety monitor will review, evaluate and provide recommendations for the improvement of BP’s process safety and risk management procedures concerning deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. An ethics monitor will review and provide recommendations for the improvement of BP’s Code of Conduct and its implementation and enforcement.
Under U.S. law, companies convicted of certain criminal acts can be debarred from contracting with the federal government. BP has not been advised of the intention of any federal agency to suspend or debar the company in connection with this plea agreement. BP will continue to work cooperatively with the debarment authority.
In its resolution with the SEC, BP has resolved the Commission’s Deepwater Horizon-related claims against the company under Sections 10(b) and 13(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the associated rules. BP has agreed to a civil penalty of $525 million, payable in three installments over a period of three years, and has consented to the entry of an injunction prohibiting it from violating certain U.S. securities laws and regulations. The SEC’s claims are premised on oil flow rate estimates contained in three reports provided by BP to the SEC during a one-week period (on April 29 and 30 and May 4, 2010), within the first 14 days after the accident. This resolution is subject to U.S. federal court approval.
“Since the spill, we have worked hard to rebuild confidence in the company,” saidMr. Dudley. “We take seriously not only our commitment to safety and operational excellence but also our communications with stakeholders, including the public, the government and our investors.”
Financial implications of resolution
The aggregate amount of the resolution is approximately $4.5 billion, with payments scheduled over a period of six years. As of the end of September 2012, BP’s financial statements recorded a charge taken against pre-tax income in relation to the accident and oil spill of $38.1 billion. This charge included $525 million provided for the SEC settlement. Today’s resolution is expected to result in an increase of approximately $3.85 billion to the $38.1 billion charge taken against income as of the end of September. BP’s financial statements as of the end of December 2012 will reflect this additional charge, as well as any other adjustments arising during the fourth quarter. It is anticipated that the cash outflows can be met within BP’s current financial framework. A summary payment schedule is attached to this release.