BP has been under fire in the U.S. since 2010, when the disastrous Deepwater Horizon rig explosion in 2010 killed 11 workers and spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, contaminating beaches and wildlife. In 2012, the ban was enacted after the EPA concluded that BP had not properly fixed the problems that led to the spill. The company was allowed to continue work on rigs already in operation.
According to the terms of the agreement, BP can start bidding as soon as next week. The company will also be evaluated in terms of ethics, corporate governance, and safety. The agency is also trying to create a work environment where workers feel comfortable reporting safety violations and concerns. An independent auditor chosen by the EPA will conduct an annual review.
BP had previously reached a $4.5 billion settlement with the federal Justice Department over the spill. The also face civil charges based on violating the Clean Water Act, and settlements with gulf workers affected by the spill that could reach higher than $7.8 billion. BP currently holds fuel supply contracts with the U.S. government worth more than $1.34 billion.
BP currently operates 10 rigs in deepwater areas of the gulf and owns 620 lease blocks—more than any other company.