Controlled burn of oil at Deepwater Horizon. Image courtesy of High Contrast/Wikimedia Commons.

A U.S. District Court judge found BP grossly negligent and guilty of willful misconduct Thursday for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, a ruling that could hit BP with penalties of up to $18 billion.

BP said it “strongly disagrees” with the ruling and said the ruling is “not supported by the evidence at trial.”

BP said it will appeal.

Texas-based Halliburton and Switzerland-based Transocean were found negligent but not reckless.

The judge divided fault for the spill at 67 percent for BP, 30 percent for Transocean and 3 percent for Halliburton.

The judge called BP “reckless” for failing to properly test the Macando well that blew out, killing 11 workers and igniting a fire.

However, BP was found not liable for punitive damages stemming from the spill.

The judge must still issue rulings on BP’s effort to stop the spill and on how much oil was spilled.

The U.S. government estimated that 4.2 million barrels of oil, or about 176 million gallons, were spilled because of the accident.

BP estimated that 2.45 million barrels, or about 100 million gallons, were spilled.

Under the Clean Water Act, BP could face a fine of $4,300 per barrel.

BP has set aside $3.5 billion for the penalties.

No penalty has been determined yet.

Pollution fines will be determined at the third phase of the trial in January.

“During the penalty proceedings, BP will seek to show that its conduct merits a penalty that is less than the applicable maximum after application of the statutory factors,” BP said.

The coalition of plaintiffs for the case includes the federal government, five Gulf of Mexico states, banks, restaurants, fishermen and a others seeking compensation for damages allegedly caused by the spill.


Leave a Reply