NEW ORLEANS -- A federal judge will decide whether to approve Transocean Ltd.'s agreement with the Justice Department to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge and pay $400 million in criminal penalties for its role in the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo has said she either will accept Transocean's guilty plea and impose the agreed-upon sentence or reject it and allow the Swiss-based drilling company to withdraw from the deal. She can't order changes to the settlement's terms at Thursday's hearing.
Transocean agreed last month to plead guilty to violating the Clean Water Act. The company also agreed to pay an additional $1 billion in civil penalties.
A different judge will decide whether to accept that part of the settlement.
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN