HOUSTON, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- A U.S. judge on Tuesday approved an agreement for British oil giant BP to plead guilty to manslaughter and other charges and pay a record 4 billion U.S. dollars in criminal penalties for the company's role in the devastating 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
BP lawyer Mark Filip entered the guilty plea on the company's behalf, according to The Houston Chronicle.
BP agreed in November to plead guilty to charges for causing the deaths of 11 workers aboard the drilling rig that exploded and for lying to Congress.
Before ruling on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance heard testimony from relatives of workers who died when BP's blown-out Macondo well triggered an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig in April 2010.
Vance's decision was issued over the objections of victims of the disaster and relatives of some of the 11 workers who were killed on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, said the newspaper.
The ruling and guilty plea to 14 criminal charges ends the criminal case against BP in the 2010 oil spill, and also marks the first criminal conviction to result from the disaster.
BP still faces the prospect of having to pay billions more in civil penalties over the amount of oil that spilled. A civil trial is set to begin in the same courthouse on Feb. 25.
The 2010 blowout of BP's Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico triggered an explosion that killed 11 rig workers and unleashed the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
BP has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges, including manslaughter and obstruction of Congress, and pay a 4-billion-U.S. dollar criminal penalty to solve federal criminal charges by the U. S. Justice Department.
U.S. authorities also have approved BP's 525-million-dollar settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for low-balling the amount of oil spilled during its 2010 Gulf of Mexico explosion.