BP plc and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday resolved all suspensions and debarment actions against the producer that had prevented it from doing business with the federal government following a guilty plea related to the Macondo well blowout in 2010. The suspensions took immediate effect.
Officials in November 2012 suspended 25 BP entities and disqualified the exploration and production arm from performing federal contract work at the corporate facility based in Houston (see Daily GPI, Nov. 29, 2012). BP has fought the suspensions in court to no avail (see Daily GPI, Aug. 19, 2013).
The administrative agreement is to be in place for five years.
"This is a fair agreement that requires BP to improve its practices in order to meet the terms we've outlined together," said EPA Assistant Administrator Craig Hooks, who is in charge of administration and resources. "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."
BP agreed to retain an approved independent auditor to conduct an annual review and report on the compliance to EPA under the settlement. Specific provisions also address ethics compliance, corporate governance and process safety.
EPA would have the authority to take appropriate corrective action if BP breaches the agreement. The settlement was coordinated with the Department of Interior, Defense Logistics Agency and U.S. Coast Guard.
The suspensions stemmed from the criminal conviction by the U.S. Department of Justice for BP's actions in the deepwater well explosion and fire, which killed 11 men and destroyed the Deepwater Horizon platform.
"Suspensions are issued where there is an immediate need to protect the public interest supported by adequate evidence," EPA officials said. The suspension did not affect existing agreements BP had with the government.