BP Agrees To Pay $18.7 Billion (Over 18 Years) For 2010 Gulf Disaster

More than five years after an explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico left eleven people dead and released untold amounts of oil into the water, BP has agreed to make $18.7 billion in payments — spread out over nearly two decades — to settle all federal and state claims related to the disaster.

The biggest chunk of the proposed payment schedule is $7.1 billion that will go to the federal government and the five states along the Gulf Coast — Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas — for natural resource damages (NRD). These payouts, spread out over 15 years, will start one year after the settlement is approved and will ding BP’s coffers for around $490 million a year.

There will also be another $232 million set aside to cover any additional NRD claims that may arise between now and the end of the payment schedule.

Another $5.5 billion is slated to be paid to the feds for BP’s alleged violations of the Clean Water Act. Like the NRD damages, the payouts would start a year from now and be meted out over the course of 15 years.

Finally, BP will pay a total of $4.9 billion to settle other claims with the Gulf Coast states. The first payment of $1 billion will be paid after the deal is approved. Then in year three of the schedule, BP will fork over $260 million a year to the states through year 18.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch says the $18.7 billion settlement, which still needs to be approved by the court, represents the highest dollar value ever for a settlement with a single corporate entity.

If approved, “it would help repair the damage done to the Gulf economy, fisheries, wetlands and wildlife; and it would bring lasting benefits to the Gulf region for generations to come,” explains Lynch in a statement.

According to the Wall Street Journal, today’s settlement announcement means BP’s total bill for the 2010 tragedy is nearly $54 billion.