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BP Expected to Be Fined 21 Billion for Deepwater Horizon Disaster

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This post originally appeared on Think Progress.

BP’s blownout Deepwater Horizon well gushed up to 2.6 million gallons a day, the federal government now says, a total equivalent of 19 Exxon Valdezes. For months, BP insisted the figure of 5,000 barrels a day (less than one tenth the actual amount) was the “ best estimate” — even as outside experts got it right. According to this new estimate, the oil giant liable for the Gulf of Mexico disaster will be responsible for a $21 billion fine — $4,300 for each barrel of oil. The subscription-only Energy Guardian notes that this figure for the oil disaster “reveals how far off initial estimates turned out to be”:

At its height, BP’s leaking well gushed 62,000 barrels of oil a day, the federal government said Monday in a revision of its figures that reveals how far off initial estimates turned out to be. The government and BP initially offered estimates of the leak at 1,000 and 5,000 of barrels a day shortly after it began in late April, eventually reaching an estimate of between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels a day after several revisions. The new estimate Monday by federal scientists means 4.9 million barrels of oil likely were released by the well before it was temporarily capped last month. BP hopes to complete an operation this week that will permanently seal the ill-fated well.

Although BP is getting a tax refund on the billions of dollars spent to contain its toxic mess and burnish its image, the company will not be able to write off this fine against its profits. Meanwhile, Republicans are expected to filibuster legislation this week that would reform the oil industry to prevent another such disaster.

Update By comparison, BP's 2008 profit was $21.2 billion. During the global recession of 2009, BP's profit was $14 billion on $239 billion in sales.
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