BP is taking a big step in its recovery following 2010's massive oil spill. The US has agreed to lift the 2012 ban that kept the oil company from doing business with the US government—including seeking contracts in the Gulf of Mexico. That means the company can begin competing for new contracts and leases as early as next Wednesday's scheduled Gulf auction—though its path to the Gulf isn't quite as neat as that. Per the agreement, it will have to meet increased ethics, corporate governance, and safety requirements, and must foot the bill for annual reviews by an independent auditor for the next five years. Those results will be handed over to the EPA, which can take action should the agreement be "breached," the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal report.
It's "the best news BP has gotten since the accident," notes an oil company analyst; to wit, the Journal points out that the 2012 injunction saw the company lose the opportunity to renew military fuel contracts valued at $2.3 billion. "BP has to get back into the hunt in order for them to score." Others, unsurprisingly, aren't as thrilled with the news. Activist group Public Citizen says the decision "lets a corporate felon and repeat offender off the hook for its crimes against people and the environment." Craig Hooks at the EPA, however, says it's "a fair agreement that requires BP to improve its practices in order to meet the terms we've outlined together." (More British Petroleum stories.)