US bans BP from new government work
Oil giant BP has been suspended from new contracts with the US government because of the way it handled the Gulf rig disaster.
The country's Environmental Protection Agency said the suspension was due to BP's "lack of business integrity as demonstrated by the company's conduct with regard to the Deepwater Horizon blow-out, explosion, oil spill, and response.".
Two weeks ago BP agreed to plead guilty to charges involving the deaths of 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which exploded and sank in April 2010, setting off the US's largest offshore oil spill. BP will also plead guilty to lying to Congress about how much oil was spewing from the blown-out Macondo well.
EPA suspensions are standard practice when a criminal case raises responsibility questions about a company. The suspension came the same day two BP rig supervisors and a former executive were scheduled to be arraigned on criminal charges stemming from the deadly explosion and the company's response to the resulting oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
BP announced earlier in November that it will plead guilty to manslaughter, obstruction of Congress and other charges and pay a record 4.5 billion dollars in penalties to resolve a Justice Department probe of the disaster.
It was not clear what new or pending contracts the suspension might affect. In the past, BP has been a major supplier of energy to the US military, and has also provided fuel products and drilling services for other US agencies such as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
On Wednesday a BP rig supervisor said he is innocent of manslaughter charges stemming from the deaths of 11 workers in the 2010 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig.
Robert Kaluza told reporters before his arraignment today that he thinks about the disaster every day but says he did not cause it. Kaluza and Donald Vidrine were both BP well site leaders and were indicted this month on manslaughter charges.
The federal indictment accuses them of disregarding abnormal high-pressure readings that should have been clear indications of trouble just before the explosion.
Former BP executive David Rainey was charged separately with concealing information from Congress about the amount of oil that was leaking from the well. Millions of gallons of crude oil spewed from BP's well for months.