Judge gets sentence recommendation for BP

Federal probation officials have issued a revised pre-sentence investigation report and made a recommendation to a judge, who will decide whether to accept or reject British oil giant BP’s plea agreement with the U.S. government that would resolve manslaughter and other criminal charges stemming from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The report and recommendation were filed in federal court in New Orleans late Monday. A notation in the docket said the report was revised from an earlier one filed Jan. 4.

Both the original report, the revised report and a recommendation and letter to the presiding judge were filed under seal. Only federal prosecutors, BP and the judge will get to see the reports, and only the judge will get to see the recommendation.

BP is expected to plead guilty Jan. 29 to 14 criminal charges. U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance will decide whether to approve the deal following a hearing at which relatives of the 11 men who were killed on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig will be given a chance to speak. Some of the relatives have publicly opposed the deal. If the judge rejects the deal, BP can withdraw its guilty plea and go to trial.

As part of its plea, BP has agreed to pay a $4 billion criminal penalty.

An undersea well owned by BP blew out in the Gulf some 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana, causing an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon, which BP was leasing from Transocean. The resulting oil spill was the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.

Four current or former BP employees also face criminal charges in the case. Rig owner Transocean has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violating the Clean Water Act and pay a $400 million criminal penalty. To resolve most of its civil liability with the U.S. government, Transocean also has agreed to pay a $1 billion civil penalty.

Transocean is scheduled to enter its guilty plea in its criminal case on Feb. 14.