The U.S. government has appealed a ruling of a federal court that lowered the possible penalty BP Plc has to pay for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 by almost $4 billion. The appeal was filed on March 13 in the US District Court in New Orleans and defied the earlier ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier that had set the size of the spill at 3.19 million barrels. The appeal did not specify what parts of Barbier’s ruling were seen as inappropriate.
According to the US government, the size of the spill was 4.09 million barrels while BP says it was 3.26 million. Under Clean Water Act, the primary federal law in the United States governing water pollution, the company could have been fined a maximum of $17.6 billion but Judge Barbier set the fine at $13.7 billion. On the top of the penalty, BP had to cover more than $42 billion of costs incurred by the spill including compensation for victims, fines, and clean-up, which collected about 810,000 barrels.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which is the official name of the BP oil disaster, began in April 2010 on the BP-owned Transocean-operated Macondo Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico. After the Deepwater Horizon oil rig had exploded, a sea-floor oil gusher was flowing for 87 days until it was capped only in July 2010. Eleven people working on the oil rig were never found. The oil spill is considered the biggest accidental oil spill in history in the petroleum industry. It is estimated that it is 8-31 percent larger than the previously largest Ixtoc I oil spill that occurred also in the Gulf of Mexico.