Fire at the Deepwater Horizon rig. Image courtesy of United States Coast Guard/Wikimedia Commons.

A U.S. federal judge rejected BP’s appeal Thursday to cap penalties for each barrel spilled during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident at $1,000 less than prosecutors are seeking.

The company had asked U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier to lower its potential penalty to $3,000 per barrel from the $4,300 per barrel fine set by U.S. prosecutors.

BP argued that the 1990 Clean Water Act capped the maximum per barrel fine at $3,000 for cases of gross negligence or willful misconduct.

Barbier ruled that the U.S Environmental Protection Agency was required to raise the maximum Clean Water Act fine by Congress and also to account for inflation.

Last September Barbier found that BP acted with gross negligence in the 2010 Macando well blowout that spilled an estimated 3.19 million barrels of oil into the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and killed 11 people.

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.

Setting fine levels is the last step before Barbier hands down a final penalty against the company.

A BP spokesman told Reuters the company disagrees with the decision and is considering its legal options.

BP is now facing penalties of up to $13.7 billion for its role in the spill after Barbier reduced the company’s maximum fine by about $5 billion after finding the government overestimated the size of the spill by about almost one million barrels.

The company has already spent about $42 billion on cleanup costs, fines and victim compensation.




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