Last we heard from BP, the oil giant had agreed to pay $4.5 billion in penalties for its role in the Deepwater Horizon blowout that spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico for several months in 2010. But that could be just the beginning for BP, as the company has just been hit with a new $34 billion claim from local and state governments to account for economic losses related to the gusher. BP has already paid out about $58 billion for the environmental disaster, and the latest blow could bring that total above $90 billion.

BP oil spill cleanup, oil spill cleanup, oil spill, Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Gulf of Mexico

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting oil spill has been described as the worst environmental disaster in US history—it was almost 20 times larger than the Exxon Valdez spill—and it was named the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. It caused irreparable harm to fragile marine and wetlands ecosystems, and dealt a serious blow to local economies, which are largely reliant on fish and shrimping operations.

The fallout from the disaster has put a serious dent in BP’s bottom line; according to the Wall Street Journal, BP posted Tuesday a 72 percent drop in profit for the fourth quarter of 2012, which is mostly the result of a steady decline in oil production in the US. For its part, BP says that it will contest the claims, alleging that that the estimates are “grossly overstated.” According to the Guardian, BP said the methodology used to calculate the damages was “seriously flawed.”

via The Guardian

Photos by US Coast Guard and Flickr user DVIDSHUB