BP Pleads Guilty, Pays $373 Million

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British oil giant BP Plc pleads guilty in a U.S. court to a string of crimes that include a fatal accident in Texas and a major oil spill in Alaska. It will pay $373 million in settlement fines. The move is part of the company's restructuring plan.


And now to the British oil giant BP. Yesterday, the firm pleaded guilty to a string of major crimes in the U.S. - from a fatal accident in Texas to a major oil spill in Alaska.

NPR's Adam Davidson explains.

ADAM DAVIDSON: The Department of Justice announced the plea agreement with BP. Two different units will spend the next three years on probation and they'll have to pay more than $370 million in fines. This is for a series of major problems that have cast BP's U.S. operations in a dark cloud for years.

The highest profile event was the 2005 explosion at a Texas City, Texas refinery. That killed 15 and injured hundreds. BP has already settled with the injured for well over a billion dollars.

BP pleaded guilty to not having required safety programs at the time of the blasts. BP also pleaded guilty to lax supervision of its Alaska pipeline operation. Severely corroded pipes caused a nearly 5,000 barrel oil spill near Prudhoe Bay in 2006.

But that's not all, BP also admitted to different illegal trading schemes. In 2002, a BP oil trader tried to manipulate gasoline futures for the company's profit. And in 2004, four BP traders tried to corner the market on propane. Those four were indicted yesterday.

All of these embarrassments led to declining profits for BP in 2006 and 2007 -record years for other oil companies.

Adam Davidson, NPR News.

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