By Daniel Hunter

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 was smaller than first thought, a judge has ruled, which is likely to result in a much smaller fine for BP.

The oil giant is facing a fine of $13.7bn (£9bn) after it spilled an estimated 4.09 million barrels of oil into the Gulf, which could've carried a fine of $17bn. But a judge ruled that roughly 3.2 million barrels were spilled.

The judge stuck with a previous ruling that BP was grossly negligent prior to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, which caused the oil spill. But he said BP was not negligent in its reaction to the spill.

The latest fine could take BP's total bill above the $42bn it had already set aside. The oil firm has sold $39bn worth of assets to cover the fines and legal expenses.

BP yesterday (Thursday) cut two hundred jobs in its North Sea oil operation.

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