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BP can resume accepting drilling contracts in Gulf of Mexico

BP signage in London three years ago
BP signage in London three years ago
Oli Scarff for Getty Images, Feb 1, 2011

London-based BP issued a press release from its Houston office via e-mail today stating that it has entered into an "administrative agreement" with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that resolves "all matters related to the suspension, debarment and statutory disqualification of BP following the Deepwater Horizon accident and oil spill."

As a result of this agreement, BP is once again eligible to enter into new contracts with the U.S. Government, including new deepwater leases in the Gulf of Mexico, the company said.

Under the terms and conditions of this five-year administrative agreement, BP has agreed to a set of "safety and operations, ethics and compliance, and corporate governance requirements", including those contained in the remedial order stemming from the company's 2012 Plea Agreement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and Final Judgment Order with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the company wrote.

As part of the agreement, BP will dismiss the lawsuit it filed against the EPA in Texas federal court "for improper statutory disqualification and suspension", according to the press release.

Meanwhile, BP's penalities are still being decided in a three-part civil trial in Federal Judge Carl Barbier's New Orleans courthouse on Poydras.

Culpability for possible Clean Water Act fines have not yet been determined following Phase two - which focused on the how much oil spilled into the gulf and who was responsible for stopping it - which concluded last Oct. 20. Phase three will determine all other liability that occurred in the process of oil spill cleanup, including containment issues and the effects of Corexit and related dispersants.

In Nov. of 2012 BP pled guilty on 14 criminal counts including manslaughter and was slapped with a $4.5 billion fine. Then in early 2013, rig operators Transocean would be found guilty of negligence and be penalized by the DOJ with a record $400 million and admit,

that members of its crew onboard the Deepwater Horizon, acting at the direction of BP’s “Well Site Leaders” or “company men,” were negligent in failing [to] investigate fully clear indications that the Macondo well was not secure and that oil and gas were flowing into the well.

BP has consistently been trying to downgrade the volume of oil that bled into the Gulf, starting with its purposely erroneous reports during the spill itself. It was only the work of scientists and conscientious reporters pressing the issue that revealed the erroneous "flow rate".

It is widely estimated that the actual amount of oil that "spilled" was around 176 million gallons.

Hyperlinks and bold marks are those of the Examiner's.

Note, an earlier version of this story said that it was the London office that issued the press release. They just distributed what was published by BP US.

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