BP once again can do business with the federal government following an agreement regarding the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday.
The oil giant had been blocked from obtaining federal contracts since November 2012, when it pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges — and agreed to a $4 billion fine — for its role in the incident that killed 11 workers and spilled about 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf.
"Many months of discussions and assessments have led up to this point, and I’m confident we’ve secured strong provisions to protect the integrity of federal procurement programs," EPA Assistant Administrator of Administration and Resources Craig Hooks said.
Under the agreement, which will be in place for five years, an EPA-approved auditor will review BP's compliance with specific ethics, corporate governance and safety measures. The company also agreed to drop a lawsuit against the suspension.
“After a lengthy negotiation, BP is pleased to have reached this resolution, which we believe to be fair and reasonable,” said John Mingé, chairman and president of BP America.
The Gulf spill was the largest in U.S. history and led to an overhaul of federal offshore drilling regulation to end a relationship between drillers and regulators that was viewed as too cozy.
It also has colored recent debates on offshore drilling. President Obama had planned to allow energy development in the Atlantic Ocean, but he kept that area off limits following the spill.
Republicans slammed the administration's response as overzealous and have continued pressing Obama to open more offshore zones.
The administration and many Democrats, though, have said more than 75 percent of the nation's recoverable resources that are available can be tapped under the White House drilling plan, which runs through 2017.