Overhauled MMS slaps $5.2 million fine on BP


The revamped Minerals Management Service is wasting no time showing the oil and natural gas industry that a new day has dawned.

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement — created last month in the wake of April’s catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico — assessed a $5.2 million civil penalty on BP America for submitting “false, inaccurate and misleading reports” about energy production on Southern Ute Indian Tribal lands in southwestern Colorado, bureau director Michael Bromwich said today.

BP reported incorrect royalty rates and prices to the department and also attributed oil and gas production to the wrong leases, according to an Interior news release. The penalty is not related to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The agency’s investigation preceded creation of the new bureau in May, Bromwich said this morning at a hearing before the House Natural Resources Committee. Still, Bromwich said the fine is indicative of the type of hard line the bureau intends to take against companies that try to cheat the government out of money it’s entitled to receive.

It does reflect a seriousness of purpose and an intent to be aggressive in pursuing a company’s violations of royalties and other issues.


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