Although BP has plead guilty to manslaughter and agreed to pay a record $4.5 billion in criminal penalties for its role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the British oil giant BP is now preparing to defend itself in court against “excessive” civilian penalties. The company could not reach an agreement with the Justice Department for up to $21 billion in fines which would be paid out to Gulf Coast states under the Clean Water Act.

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A plea deal between BP and the U.S. Justice Department was finalized in January in which BP agreed to pay $4.5 billion for criminal damages related to the 2010 disaster. In later civil proceeding however, the company failed to reach a deal with federal government lawyers over gross negligence allegations and is preparing to face the charges in court. The trial, scheduled to begin on Monday, could result in BP paying additional $21 billion in civil damages.

The blowout at BP’s Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 has set off the largest marine spill in US history- an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil. The British oil company claims that the charges for environmental damage are excessive and argues that the $23 billion it already spent on clean-up costs should be taken into consideration by the court.

The trial will be executed in two phases. The first phase will be focused on the causes and degrees of responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon accident. The court will determine whether BP or any other party was grossly negligent, BP said. The second phase, set for September this year, will address the government flow rate estimates from the Macondo spill. BP claims that the estimate of 4.9 million barrels is “inflated” and at least 20 percent too high. The company said it would agree to accept liability for 3.1 million barrels of spilled oil.

Via The Guardian

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