DOJ Accuses BP of Gross
Negligence Over Deepwater
Horizon Oil Spill
The United States Department of Justice accused BP plc (NYSE:BP)
(LON:BP) of gross negligence or willful misconduct during the disastrous
oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, according to the report from
The DOJ also said the oil company practiced a culture of corporate
BP issued a statement denying the DOJ’s accusations. The company said it
will present evidences during the court hearing in January to prove that it
did not commit any gross negligence.
The DOJ submitted its argument to the Eastern District Court of Louisiana,
negating BP plc (NYSE:BP) (LON:BP)’s earlier filing, and pointed out the oil
company’s assertion that it did not commit gross negligence. The gulf
region is undergoing a robust recovery, and other issues related to the
liability and natural damage were “plainly misleading.”
In its filing, the DOJ provided evidence, such as e-mails and documents
that clearly demonstrated how the BP engineers, executives and
contractors dealt with the Deepwater Horizon explosion. In their
argument, the lawyers for the government pointed out, “The behaviour,
words and actions of these BP plc (NYSE:BP) (LON:BP) executives would
not be tolerated in a middling size company manufacturing dry goods for
sale in a suburban mall. Yet they were condoned in a corporation engaged
in an activity [deepwater drilling] that no less a witness than Tony
Hayward [former BP chief executive] himself described as comparable to
exploring outer space.”
The Department of Justice filed its memo to the court, in response to the
request of the of oil company to approve the $7.8 billion settlement with
the victims of the oil spill. The justice department is not opposing the
settlement. The DOJ wants the court to open the possibilities that BP
should still be liable for damages related to the oil spill, since the full
extent of damages in the gulf was not yet determined.
A report from the Financial Times cited that the Department of Justice
wants BP plc (NYSE:BP) (LON:BP) to pay a $15 billion settlement. Many
believe that the recent gross negligence accusations of the justice
department will increase the amount of compensation to settle the case.
Meanwhile, a report from Nomura Equity Research suggested that a
settlement between the BP plc (NYSE:BP) (LON:BP) and the DOJ is unlikely.
The research firm opined that the latest move of the government might be
politically motivated, due to the upcoming presidential elections.
The research firm said that the justice department did not present new
evidence to prove that the oil company committed gross negligence, but it
countered some of the claims in its August 13 filing that some information
was misrepresented; particularly the issue on liability & natural resource
damages. The DOJ also asked the court to discuss the issue in a trial, not in
a fairness hearing, on November 8.
Nomura Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:NMR) also maintained its opinion that the
DOJ wants to settle the case for $25 billion, while BP wants $15 billion,
therefore the settlement process will most likely go to court.
The research firm maintains a neutral rating for the company. BP stock is
down by 2.71 percent to $40.51 cents during the morning trading on