BP’s hopes of negotiating an out-of-court settlement regarding the disastrous 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill officially died today as the company agreed to pay a $4.5 billion dollar fine to the US government. That total includes reparations owed to government agencies like the SEC and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation along with $1.3 billion in criminal fines–the largest such penalty in history.
Perhaps even more significantly, the company also admitted its own culpability in the deaths of 11 rig workers as part of the agreement and confessed to lying to members of congress about the scale of the damage. And that’s not all: two BP employees will face felony charges of manslaughter relating to their roles in the deaths.
We can’t say we envy the firm responsible for dragging BP’s reputation out of the gutter. The company’s Olympics ads may have been surprisingly effective in boosting consumer perceptions, but we can’t imagine this latest development going over too well with an already skeptical public. BP won’t be getting past this you-know-what anytime soon.
Despite all the noise, BP still managed to make a $5.5. billion profit in the third quarter alone–so brace yourself for a glut of commercials starring oil-splattered birds, wrecked homes and Good Samaritans who just happen to be wearing BP logos.