BP will face a maximum fine of $13.7bn under the Clean Water Act for its Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, several billion less than feared.
Federal magistrate Carl Barbier ruled on Thursday that the size of the spill from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, the worst offshore spill in US history, was smaller than the government had claimed.
He said that it amounted to 3.19m barrels, well below the government’s estimate of 4.09m barrels, which could have led to penalties of up to $17.6bn.
US-listed shares of BP rose about 1% to $36.20 in after-hours trading as investors worried about the size of potential penalties breathed a sigh of relief.
Under a ruling of gross negligence, Barbier issued in September, BP could be fined a statutory limit of up to $4,300 for each barrel spilled, though he has authority to assign lower penalties.
A simple negligence ruling, which BP sought, caps the maximum fine at $1,100 per barrel.
(keep reading at theguardian.com)