UNDATED (CBS) -- BP Plc is expected to plead guilty to criminal misconduct in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster through a plea agreement it has reached with the U.S. Department of Justice that may be announced as soon as Thursday (November 15), according to two sources familiar with discussions.
The sources, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said BP would plead guilty in exchange for a waiver of future prosecution on the charges.
BP and the Justice Department declined to comment.
London-based oil giant BP has been locked in months-long negotiations with the U.S. government and Gulf Coast states to settle billions of dollars of potential civil and criminal liability claims resulting from the April 20, 2010, explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig.
The deal could resolve a significant share of the liability that BP faces after an explosion killed 11 workers and fouled the shorelines of four Gulf Coast states in the worst offshore spill in U.S. history. BP still faces economic and environmental damage claims sought by U.S. Gulf Coast states and other private plaintiffs.
It is unclear what form of criminal misconduct BP will plead guilty to.
In an August filing, the Department of Justice said "reckless management" of the Macondo well "constituted gross negligence and willful misconduct," which it intended to prove at a pending civil trial set to begin in New Orleans in February 2013. The U.S. government has not yet filed any criminal charges in the case.
BP will pay a record criminal penalty to resolve some of its liability for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in a deal to be announced by the U.S. Justice Department as soon as Thursday, a source told Reuters.
The source familiar with discussions did not disclose the actual amount of BP's payment but said it would be the largest criminal penalty in U.S. history. That record is currently held by Pfizer Inc, which paid a $1.3 billion criminal fine in 2009 for marketing fraud connected to its Bextra pain medicine.
The mile-deep Macondo well spewed 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over a period of 87 days. The torrent fouled shorelines from Texas to Florida and eclipsed in severity the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.
BP has already announced an uncapped class-action settlement with private plaintiffs that the company estimates will cost $7.8 billion to resolve litigation brought by over 100,000 individuals and businesses claiming economic and medical damages from the spill.