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The aftermath of BP's drilling disaster (2 of 2)

Welcome back. We are currently discussing April 2010's Deepwater Horizon drilling explosion and oil spill that sent nearly 5 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Last week, it was reported that BP agreed to take criminal responsibility for the disaster, and will pay $4.5 billion in fines and restitution.

BP faces civil liability for violating the Clean Water Act as well, which could result in fines in the $10 billion range.

The federal government's civil case against BP is set to go before a federal judge in New Orleans in February. In the meantime, the two parties will try to work out a resolution, but the U.S. attorney general recently said that while negotiations continue, "we have not reached a number that we considered satisfactory."

Additionally, BP has reportedly paid out more than $9 billion to individuals and businesses affected by the explosion and oil spill in personal injury lawsuits. BP has also spent billions in an effort to clean up the spill and prevent as much damage to marine life and wild life as possible.

Following the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the regulatory agency that oversees deepwater drilling was revamped in effort to improve safety and prevent something like this from ever happening again.

Prior to the disaster one agency was in charge of leasing drilling rights in the Gulf, approving drilling plans and monitoring safety. Today, separate agencies oversee the functions to promote checks and balances.

One drilling worker who was working on Deepwater Horizon on the day the blast occurred said he is happy that "someone is being held accountable" for the disaster. Although he said he hopes BP doesn't "let the middle-management guys take the fall and then don't change the safety culture."

There is no doubt that deepwater drilling is still a dangerous industry, but hopefully lessons have been learned as a result of the April 2010 blast, including that it never pays to compromise safety.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "BP Slapped With Record Fine," Tom Fowler, Nov. 15, 2012

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