New Deal Lets BP Back Into the Gulf

A deal lets BP bid on new leases in the Gulf, and resume selling oil to the U.S. government

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Fire crews respond to the Deepwater Horizon explosion. U.S. Coast Guard

It's been nearly four years since an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil platform killed 11 workers and sent a staggering amount of oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. The spill killed the Gulf's dolphins, and, years later, was still sending tar balls onto shore. It was one of the most costly oil spills in history and, though it was bad, an even greater environmental catastrophe was only narrowly avoided by an unusual fluke in the behavior of the Gulf's currents.

In the wake of the blowout, BP was blacklisted from the Gulf, barred by the Environmental Protection Agency from seeking new leases to drill. Yesterday, says the New York Times, that ban was undone:

BP had sued to have the suspension lifted, and now the agreement will mean hundreds of millions of dollars of new business for the company. But even more important, oil analysts said, it signifies an important step in the company’s recovery from the accident, which has been costly to its finances and reputation.

...Under the agreement, BP will be allowed to bid for new leases as early as next Wednesday, but only as long as the company passes muster on ethics, corporate governance and safety procedures outlined by the agency. There will be risk assessments, a code of conduct for officers, guidance for employees and “zero tolerance” for retaliation against employees or contractors who raise safety concerns.

BP hasn't been banned from working in the Gulf all this time, just unable to start new projects. The new deal, says Agence-France Press, will be effective for the next five years. The deal, says Bloomberg, will also let BP once again start selling its products to the U.S. government. Before the spill and the ban, BP was the Pentagon's biggest supplier.

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