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The well is situated in the Macondo Prospect in Mississippi Canyon Block 252 (MC252) of the Gulf of Mexico, in the United States' exclusive economic zone.

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In November 2012, BP and the United States Department of Justice settled federal criminal charges with BP pleading guilty to 11 counts of manslaughter, two misdemeanors, and a felony count of lying to Congress.

BP also agreed to four years of government monitoring of its safety practices and ethics, and the Environmental Protection Agency announced that BP would be temporarily banned from new contracts with the US government.

Next it placed a 125-tonne (280,000 lb) containment dome over the largest leak and piped the oil to a storage vessel.

While this technique had worked in shallower water, it failed here when gas combined with cold water to form methane hydrate crystals that blocked the opening at the top of the dome.

Researchers concluded that deep plumes of dissolved oil and gas would likely remain confined to the northern Gulf of Mexico and that the peak impact on dissolved oxygen would be delayed and long lasting.

In 2013, some scientists at the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference said that as much as one-third of the oil may have mixed with deep ocean sediments, where it risks damage to ecosystems and commercial fisheries.

BP and the Department of Justice agreed to a record-setting .525 billion in fines and other payments.

It was drilling a deep exploratory well, 18,360 feet (5,600 m) below sea level, in approximately 5,100 feet (1,600 m) of water.

Although only "minute" quantities of oil continued to wash up in 2013, patches of tar balls were still being reported almost every day from Alabama and Florida Panhandle beaches.

Regular cleanup patrols were no longer considered justified but cleanup was being conducted on an as-needed basis, in response to public reports.

If that proves to be the case, the sheen can be expected to eventually disappear.

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