A federal US judge in Louisiana has finalised BP’s $20bn civil settlement over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.
Judge Carl Barbier determined the deal between BP, the Justice Department, and five states of the Gulf Coast, which would allowing the company to deduct a majority of the costs as an ordinary business expense.
BP originally reached an agreement with the US Department of Justice and the Gulf Coast states in July 2015 to pay up to $18.7bn in penalties.
US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said: "The approval of this agreement will open a final, hopeful chapter in the six-year story of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy.
"Today’s action holds BP accountable with the largest environmental penalty of all time, while launching one of the most extensive environmental restoration efforts ever undertaken.
"The department of justice will continue to stand with the people of the Gulf as they seek to rebuild and protect the marine life, coastal systems, and beautiful beaches that have made the region a treasured natural resource."
An international network of environmental organisations Friends of the Earth Climate and Energy campaigner Lukas Ross said: "We are saddened to learn that the gross negligence of BP continues to enjoy taxpayer subsidies.
"Treating the worst oil spill in US history as an ordinary and necessary business expense boggles the mind."
An explosion on Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon rig that occurred on 20 April 2010, killing 11 workers and discharging millions of barrels of oil into ocean and shorelines of several states for nearly three months.
The rig was leased to BP from 2001 until September 2013.
When the incident took place, the rig was drilling at the Macondo Prospect and the explosion caused a blowout that ignited a fireball visible from 64km away.
Image: Platform supply vessels battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon. Photo: courtesy of US Coast Guard.