British oil giant BP agreed to pay $373 million in fines and penalties on Thursday to settle charges related to manipulating U.S. energy markets, a Texas refinery explosion and a pipeline spill in Alaska, according to U.S. prosecutors.
The U.S. Justice Department said Thursday that BP will pay $303 million for allegations that it manipulated the propane market in 2004. It will also pay a $50 million criminal fine for violations which led to an accidental Texas City explosion in 2005 that killed 15 people and injured another 170. Among several lesser payments, $20 million will go toward resolving criminal liability for a spill at its Prudhoe Bay oil field in 2006.
The actions against BP, along with the criminal charges against the four former BP traders, reflect our continued efforts to ensure companies and individuals that do not follow the law will face consequences for their actions, said Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher of the Justice Department's Criminal Division in a statement.
As part of the settlement, BP's trading practices will be monitored for three years and the U.S. government will end criminal investigations related to commodity trade. Four ex BP traders had been indicted their role in the propane case.
These agreements are an admission that, in these instances, our operations failed to meet our own standards and the requirements of the law, said Bob Malone, chairman of BP America. For that, we apologize.
BP also said it has already spent $1.6 billion to compensate victims of the Texas explosion.
Ahead of the settlement this week newly appointed BP Chief Tony Hayward announced a companywide restructuring meant to streamline the organization and address various of the safety concerns raised in recent years.
BP must still deal with a shareholder suit in Alaska regarding the oil spill at the Prudhoe Bay field during the past three years.