BP on Thursday announced an $18.7 billion settlement with the U.S. government, five Gulf Coast states and more than 400 local governments. The agreement comes five years after the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Eleven workers were killed in the accident.
The company says the payments, to be made over the next 18 years, "settle all state and local claims arising from the event."
The settlement was announced as a federal judge was about to rule on how much the company owed under the Clean Water Act. BP says it will pay a civil penalty of $5.5 billion under the Clean Water Act over 15 years.
The company will also pay $7.1 billion to the U. S. and the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas over 15 years for natural resource damages, and $4.9 billion over 18 years to settle economic and other claims made by the five states.
BP says an additional $1 billion will be paid to more than 400 local government entities.
There remains legal work to be done; U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the Justice Department will "work diligently" over the next several months to incorporate the agreement into a consent decree, which would be open to public comment before court approval.
BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said, "With this agreement we provide a path to closure for BP and the Gulf. It resolves the company's largest remaining legal exposures, provides clarity on costs and creates certainty of payment for all parties involved."
The Wall Street Journal says the settlement "brings BP's total tab for the spill to $53.8 billion, more than its combined profits since 2012."
The spill, which resulted from the April 20, 2010, blowout on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, coated miles of wetlands with thick oil, killing birds, fish and marine mammals. Tar balls washed up on beaches around the Gulf.