BP, U.S. Justice Department close to oil spill settlement: WSJ

Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:00pm EDT

A BP petrol station sign is seen at dawn in west London October 25, 2011. REUTERS/Toby Melville

A BP petrol station sign is seen at dawn in west London October 25, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Toby Melville

(Reuters) - BP PLC (BP.L) and the U.S. Justice Department are close to a broad deal that would release the company from additional civil and criminal liabilities arising out of 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the talks.

BP in March reached an estimated $7.8 billion deal to resolve its liability with plaintiffs, a wide-ranging group that represents condominium owners, fishermen, hoteliers, restaurant owners and others who say their livelihood was damaged by the spill.

A settlement with the Justice Department would resolve BP's biggest remaining liability from the rig explosion that killed 11 workers and led to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

BP could be liable for between $5.4 billion and $21 billion in civil penalties under the Clean Water Act alone, depending on whether it were found to be grossly negligent, which it has denied, the paper said (link.reuters.com/nef33t).

Both BP and Justice Department declined to comment to Reuters when contacted about the Journal report.

(Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Ken Wills)