BP will have to pay up to $13.7 billion in fines for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, but not the $18 billion the U.S. government had estimated, following a federal district court ruling in New Orleans last week.
“There is no way to know with precision how much oil discharged into the Gulf of Mexico,” wrote Judge Carl Barbier, who previously found BP “grossly negligent” in the spill. “There was no meter counting off each barrel of oil as it exited the well.” The judge set the fine based on 3.19 million barrels after “weighing all of the evidence and considering all of the arguments.”
Tulane law professor Edward F. Sherman said Barbier was wise to find a middle ground between the government’s estimate and BP’s. University of Michigan law professor David Uhlmann countered that “today’s ruling is a major victory for BP and reduces by billions their potential liability.”