BP has been found guilty of gross negligence for its role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010.
The decision by the Eastern district court in Louisiana means the oil company faces civil penalties of up to £18 billion under the Clean Water Act because the gross negligence ruling allows authorities to quadruple BP’s fine from $1,100 to $4,300 for every barrel of oil spilled.
The US government estimates that 4.2 million barrels of oil were spilled into the Gulf of Mexico during the incident. BP said it strongly disagreed with the court decision. “The law is clear that proving gross negligence is a very high bar that was not met in this case,” it said.