(Reuters) The U.S. government banned BP Plc on Wednesday from new federal contracts over its “lack of business integrity” in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, possibly imperiling the company’s role as a top U.S. offshore oil and gas producer and the No. 1 military fuel supplier.
The suspension, announced by the Environmental Protection Agency, comes on the heels of BP’s November 15 agreement with the U.S. government to plead guilty to criminal misconduct in the Gulf of Mexico disaster, the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The British energy giant agreed to pay $4.5 billion in penalties, including a record $1.256 billion criminal fine.
BP and its affiliates are barred from new federal contracts until they demonstrate they can meet federal business standards, the EPA said. The suspension is “standard practice” and BP’s existing U.S. government contracts are not affected, it said.
The EPA acted hours before a government auction of offshore tracts in the Gulf of Mexico, a region where BP is the largest investor and lease-holder of deep-water tracts and hopes for further growth. BP is also the top fuel supplier to the U.S. military, the largest single buyer of oil in the world.
Suspension of contracts could give the government leverage to pressure BP to settle federal and state civil litigation that could top $20 billion if a court finds BP was grossly negligent in the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
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