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BP says Gulf oil spill settlement with US near

LONDON – British oil company BP said Thursday it is in advanced discussion with U.S. agencies about settling criminal and other claims from the Gulf of Mexico well blowout two years ago.

In a statement, BP said “no final agreement has yet been reached” and that any such agreement would still be subject to court approvals.

BP said the proposed settlement would not include civil claims under the Clean Water Act and other legislation, pending private civil claims and state claims for economic loss.

The explosion and fire aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20, 2010, killed 11 workers and set off a spill which continued for 87 days, fouling large areas of the southern coast of the United States.

Any settlement is expected to dwarf the largest previous corporate criminal penalty assessed by the Department of Justice – the $1.2 billion fine imposed on drugmaker Prizer in 2009.

BP has booked provisions of $38.1 billion to cover its liabilities from the incident, but the company has said the final cost remained highly uncertain. BP also recently announced that it expects to make the final payment this year to a $20 billion trust fund to cover damage from the blowout.

In March, BP announced a settlement with multiple claimants for medical and economic losses, which is estimated to cost $7.8 billion.

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