BP will once again be allowed federal contracts and oil leases, with the Environmental Protection Agency agreeing to drop an order declaring the oil company an unfit business partner for the U.S. government in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The government suspended BP from winning new federal leases and contracts on November 2012, saying the company had shown a "lack of business integrity."
The debarment came after BP agreed to plead guilty and pay a $4.5 billion penalty for criminal charges resulting from the disaster, which killed 11 workers and led to a massive spill in the gulf.
The Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday it’s reached an agreement with BP to allow the company to resume doing business with the federal government.
The five-year agreement imposes requirements on BP for ethics compliance, corporate governance and safety. The company will have to hire an auditor to do an annual review.
"This is a fair agreement that requires BP to improve its practices in order to meet the terms we’ve outlined together," said Craig Hooks, assistant administrator of the EPA.
The consumer activist group Public Citizen criticized the agreement, saying it “lets a corporate felon and repeat offender off the hook for its crimes against people and the environment.”
The deal follows a lawsuit that BP filed in federal court in Texas against the EPA, arguing that the government was wrongly barring it from new contracts. BP America Chairman John Minge emphasized Thursday that the company is now once again eligible to bid on new deepwater leases in the Gulf of Mexico.
“After a lengthy negotiation, BP is pleased to have reached this resolution, which we believe to be fair and reasonable,” Mingé said.