According to the Oil Pollution Act, BP will pay a fine for each of the 4.9 million barrels that flowed into the Gulf of Mexico. The amount for each barrel will depend on whether BP is found to be “negligent.” If the courts find BP to not be negligent, each barrel will cost BP $1,000 – totaling $4.9 billion. On the other hand, if BP is negligent, the fine will be $4,300 per barrel – totaling $21.07 billion.
BP clearly wants to avoid the negligence conviction and the battle is likely to be in the courts for numerous years – just as the Exxon Valdez lawsuits are now over twenty years old. Additionally, BP wants to avoid negligence so that the other business partners involved would also be partially responsible for the fine.