"We have secured a historic resolution of our pending claims against BP totaling more than $20 billion – making it the largest settlement with a single entity in American history," Lynch said. "This agreement will launch one of the largest environmental restoration efforts the world has ever seen."
Lynch explained that the DOJ’s historic resolution would include civil claims under the Clean Water Act, natural resources damages claims as well as economic damages claims from the five US states affected by the spill.
Lynch stressed that the settlement does not aim to deter other oil companies from ventures in the Gulf, but should be taken as a cautionary note to other companies.
"The settlement is not designed to discourage any valid economic activity in the Gulf and certainly not the oil production takes place there is also a valid and valued part of American economy," Lynch said. "What it is designed to do, however, is to <…> let other companies know that they are going be responsible for the harm that incurs should accidents like this happen in the future."
BP was responsible for one of the worst environmental disasters in US history when its Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded killing 11 people and spilling millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010.
Following the BP spill, the company's share price reduced by half and froze dividends. BP was also forced to sell half of its offshore platforms and refineries to help meet a staggering fine of $40 billion for the clean-up and compensation costs.