A federal judge ruled last week that BP was grossly negligent in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.
The oil giant has already said it would appeal the ruling, but could face fines as high as $17.6 billion in civil penalties under the Clean Water Act if the judge’s decision stands. That figure is based on a penalty of $4,300 per barrel of oil that was spilled, though the amount of oil spilled is still under debate.
In the judge’s ruling, BP was apportioned 67% of the blame for the nation’s worst offshore disaster. Drilling rig owner Transocean Ltd. was apportioned 30% of the blame, and cement contractor Halliburton Energy Service, 3%.
The 153-page ruling from the judge said BP’s “profit-driven decisions” in the well’s drilling led to the deadly offshore accident and subsequent ecological and economical disaster.
“These instances of negligence, taken together, evince an extreme deviation from the standard of care and a conscious disregard of known risks,” Barbier wrote.