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Environment

US government bans BP from new contracts

The US government has banned oil giant BP from receiving new contracts due to its misconduct in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The company must now prove it can meet business standards before drilling new territory.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Wednesday its decision to bar British Petroleum from obtaining more business in the United States. The ban came two weeks after the oil giant had agreed to pay $4.5 billion fine as part of a settlement in the country's worst ecological disaster. BP also had pleaded guilty to 14 counts of criminal charges, including manslaughter and obstruction of justice.

"EPA is taking this action due to BP's lack of business integrity as demonstrated by the company's conduct with regard to the Deepwater Horizon blowout, explosion, oil spill, and response," the US environmental body said in a statement.

The ruling does not hinder the organization from carrying out its current contracts. BP is one of the US' largest oil and natural gas producers.

The federal agency planned to enforce the moratorium, "until [BP] can provide sufficient evidence to EPA demonstrating that it meets federal business standards."

Also on Wednesday, three BP employees appeared before federal court in New Orleans. Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, both Deepwater Horizon supervisors present at the accident, pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter. Prosecutors have said they ignored warning signs prior to the explosion.

Former BP executive David Rainey also entered a not-guilty plea to charges of obstruction of justice for allegedly neglecting to disclose the extent of the oil spill.

On April 20, 2010 an explosion on BP's drilling platform Deepwater Horizon released millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Workers could not contain the blowout for 86 days. The oil spill led not only to extensive environmental damage along the US' gulf coast, but also to the tourism and fishing industries across several states.

Earlier this year, BP reached a settlement of about $7.8 billion with plaintiffs from the gulf coast affected by the spill.

Additional fines reaching $20 billion could be levied upon the oil company if found guilty of negligence under the Clean Water Act.

kms/mr (AFP, Reuters, dapd)