BP pays largest fine in US history over oil spill

PETROLEUM giant BP has agreed to pay the biggest criminal fine in United States history stemming from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The company announced on Friday (AEST) it would pay a total of $4.5 billion as well as pleading guilty to 14 criminal charges.

Two BP workers have been indicted on manslaughter charges while an ex-manager has been charged with misleading Congress.

As part of its settlement with the Department of Justice BP will cough up $4 billion over the next five years.

Included in that sum is a record criminal fine of $1.26 billion as well as payments to wildlife and science organisations.

BP will pay an additional $525 million over the next three years to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

While the company issued a statement apologising for the disaster, it stressed it was prepared to "vigorously defend itself against remaining civil claims".

"All of us at BP deeply regret the tragic loss of life caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident as well as the impact of the spill on the Gulf coast region," said Bob Dudley, BP's group chief executive.

"From the outset, we stepped up by responding to the spill, paying legitimate claims and funding restoration efforts in the Gulf.

"We apologise for our role in the accident, and as today's resolution with the US Government further reflects, we have accepted responsibility for our actions."

Eleven people died after an explosion on Deep Horizon oil rig in April, 2010.

For the next three months almost five million barrels of oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico, making it the worst offshore oil spill in US history.

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