The US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana has approved BP‘s plea to resolve all federal criminal charges against the company, in relation to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico which killed 11 people.

BP agreed to pay $4.5bn in a settlement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) on 15 November 2012 and pleaded guilty to 14 criminal charges.

The settlement amount also included a criminal fine of $1.26bn, which is believed to be the largest in the US history, to be paid in instalments over five years.

BP, which was sentenced in relation to the agreement that it reached with the DOJ, offered its plea to the US District Court.

As part of the agreement, BP will appoint a process safety monitor and an ethics monitor, both with a term of four years, as well as an independent auditor, who will report annually on the company’s compliance with the remedial terms of probation.

"The settlement amount also included a criminal fine of $1.26bn, which is believed to be the largest in the US history."

In addition, the court ordered certain equitable relief, which includes actions related to the company’s risk management processes and initiatives with academia and regulators to develop new technologies related to deepwater drilling safety.

BP America vice president Luke Keller, who was present during the court hearing, said: "Our guilty plea makes clear, BP understands and acknowledges its role in that tragedy, and we apologize – BP apologizes – to all those injured and especially to the families of the lost loved ones."

"BP is also sorry for the harm to the environment that resulted from the spill, and we apologize to the individuals and communities who were injured," Keller added.

In November 2012, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had imposed a temporary suspension of many BP entities, following the company’s entry into the plea agreement with DOJ.

Following the court’s approval, EPA’s temporary suspension, however, may be maintained or converted into a proposed discretionary debarment of these entities, according to BP.

In 2010, the oil spill occurred from a sea-floor oil gusher, following an explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which drilled on the BP-operated Macondo Prospect, leading to one of the largest offshore oil spills in US history.

Image: A US court approved BP’s plea to resolve federal criminal charges against it in relation to Deepwater Horizon.