In this April 21, 2010 file image provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon. Oil giant BP PLC says in an internal report released Wednesday Sept. 8, 2010 that multiple companies and work teams contributed to the massive Gulf of Mexico spill that fouled waters and shorelines for months.
BP could face up to $13.7 billion in fines—the maximum under federal law—in the third and final phase of its trial over the 2010 Gulf Coast Oil spill.
BP said its fine should be modest as it took extensive steps to mitigate the worst offshore disaster in U.S. history and that the defendant named in the case, BP’s exploration and production unit, known as BPXP, cannot afford a big penalty.
“There has been no collapse of the ecosystem,” BP lawyer Mike Brock said in opening statements, contending that the Gulf has been more resilient than thought. Environmental groups say it could take decades for the Gulf to recover.
Brock said the penalties should take into account BPXP’s ability to pay, and not be tied to the balance sheet of its parent company.
As the trial gets underway this week, we look at how oil companies think about future drilling, fracking and mining. Will this disaster change the way drilling happens?
Listen to the full audio on MPR News.
—Antonia Juhasz: Analyst, journalist and author of “Black Tide: The Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill”
—Hari Osofsky: Professor of law and faculty director of the Energy Transition Lab at the University of Minnesota