<a href=BP” height=”225″ src=”https://www.offshore-technology.com/wp-content/uploads/static-progressive/800px-Deepwater_Horizon_offshore_drilling_unit_on_fire_2010.jpg” style=”padding: 10px” title=”Blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon in 2010″ width=”300″ />

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has imposed a temporary suspension on United Kingdom-based oil major BP and all its affiliates from new federal government contracts, following its response over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

EPA, which is the lead agency for suspension and debarment actions, said the decision to suspend BP was taken considering the firm’s lack of business integrity in dealing with the disaster that posed substantial environmental challenges for the US.

Besides restrictions from future potential contracts, the ban also stops the company and the named affiliates from any fresh federal grants or other covered transactions.

The suspension, however, will not have any effect on the government’s existing agreements with BP, which is reportedly the largest producer in the Gulf of Mexico as of the end of 2011, with more than 700 leases.

The explosion of Deepwater Horizon, which drilled on the BP-operated Macondo Prospect, left 11 people dead and several others injured, therefore becoming liable for several felony counts.

"In the United States, suspension related actions are enforced when a question of responsibility is raised by action in a criminal case."

Two weeks ago, BP agreed to pay $4.5bn in a settlement with the US Government, while pleading guilty to 11 counts of Misconduct or Neglect of Ship Officers relating to the loss of lives.

As part of the resolution, the company also agreed to plead guilty to one ‘misdemeanor count of a violation of the Clean Water Act’, and one ‘misdemeanor count of a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act’.

In the United States, suspension related actions are enforced when a question of responsibility is raised by action in a criminal case, in order to ensure the integrity of federal programmes, which call for conducting business only with responsible individuals or companies.

EPA would consider lifting the temporary ban on BP, only after proper evidence of "present responsibility" is provided by the company that it would comply with federal business standards to conduct business with the US Government.

In a response to the suspension, BP issued a statement saying that it had already submitted present responsibility statement and provided answers to EPA’s questions over submission, besides adding that it has been in regular touch with the federal agency.

BP did not submit any bids for the Western Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 229 that the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) conducted on the same day when the ban was called for.

Image: The Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in 2010 has led to the suspension of BP’s potential future contracts with the US Government.