BP is allowed back into Washington

Is all forgiven between the US and BP? The government has just lifted a ban which prevented it from bidding for public contracts.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 14 Mar 2014

It has been a rocky few years for BP following the mother of all public relations nightmares, aka the Deepwater Horizon blowout in 2010.

Not only did it have to shell out $14bn to cap the well and clean up the surrounding area, but it’s had to pay out $11bn to businesses and individuals affected by the disaster, and has another $17bn earmarked for that purpose. It also – crucially – was banned from bidding for US government contracts.

But now the US government has said BP’s time in exile is up: today it agreed to lift the ban after the BP agreed it would meet a series of safety, operations and compliance requirements. Also, it had to drop its lawsuit against the US’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

This is a grudging acceptance by the US authorities: BP has complained about the ban so much that the UK government eventually got involved, calling it ‘excessive’ and ‘destabilising’, and pointing out that it affected UK jobs and pensions.

‘The government is concerned that such a broad sanction can and will have serious and unjustified economic consequences,’ it complained.

John Mingé, the chairman of BP America Inc, said it would allow ‘America’s largest energy investor to compete again’. Shareholders are in agreement: its US-listed shares jumped 1% in after hours trading.

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