BP Could Be Hit With $52 Billion Fine As Oil Spill Trial Begins On Monday

BP will head to court on Monday to defend itself in response to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. If found guilty to the full extent of current laws BP could be faced with upwards of $52 billion in fines and other compensatory damages.

Under the Clean Water Act the company was already required to pay $1,100 for each barrel of spilled oil, however because of gross negligence on the part of the energy company the Federal government quadrupled that amount. That means based on estimated oil spill numbers BP could pay $21 billion per spilled barrell.

Furthering the companies potential fines is the Oil Pollution Act which requires that companies pay for the restoration of environmental conditions brought about by their pollution. According to the director of an environmental watchdog group:

“This one is off the charts in terms of size and significance.”

Because of the scale of the destruction BP could be faced with upwards of $31 billion in additional fines for a grand total of $52 billion.

In arguing against the $31 billion in cleanup costs BP is expected to show TransOcean and Halliburton Energy should also be held accountable for part of that expense. BP will also likely argue that warm waters in the region along with oil-eating bacteria and other factors helps stop much of the environmental damage.

It’s likely that BP will also argue that the damage is hard to isolate to one company since other spills in the Gulf of Mexico in the past make it impossible to determine the exact amount of damage caused by the areas most catastrophic oil spill.

As one environmental lawyer tells the Associated Press :

“There is going to be a lot of voodoo there.”

In defending his company’s practices BP’s CEO Bob Dudley tells the Telegraph:

“I think we are now using the toughest standards in the world for floating drilling rigs everywhere.”

Do you think $52 billion is a fair fine for BP to pay based on the complete lack of safety stanards put in place before the Gulf of Mexico oil spill?