BP plc (BP) Civil Settlement in Deepwater Case Could be Billions Below Expectations

February 22, 2013 3:46 PM EST
BP plc (NYSE: BP) shares are trading strong Friday afternoon amid speculation it might enter a settlement with the U.S. over Clean Water Act (CWA) for less than expected.

According to reports, BP might pay $16 billion in a deal with the government to settle civil claims for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident, which led to one of the worst oil spills in U.S. history.

Potential fines under the CWA might total $17.6 billion, though BP expects to pay about $5 billion or less. BP will also make payments to the Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA), but those are tax deductible for the company.

To be fined the maximum, BP will have had to have been grossly negligent in its role leading up to the disaster, though the company has averred that it wasn't and prosecution would have a tough time proving otherwise.

The first of two trials will begin Monday, the WSJ noted today, taking place in front of a federal judge in a New Orleans, LA.

Since 2010, BP has spent over $14 billion on spill response and cleanup. The company has also paid out about $9 billion to businesses and individuals along the Gulf Coast.

Shares are 2.3 percent higher into the close.

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