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BP to pay California $102 million to settle natural gas overcharge allegations

BP to pay California $102 million to settle natural gas overcharge allegations
BP has agreed to pay California $102 million to settle allegations that it overcharged the state for natural gas, state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra announced Thursday. (Charles Dharapak / AP)

Energy giant BP has agreed to pay California $102 million as part of a settlement of allegations that it overcharged the state in sales of natural gas, Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said Thursday.

During a news conference, Becerra said that BP decided it would "squeeze gold out of that goose" by overcharging state and local government agencies for natural gas purchases from 2003 to 2012.

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"The last thing any of us need is to be ripped off," Becerra said.

Becerra said a whistleblower came forward to report the overcharges. The $102 million will be divided among the state and local government agencies, the whistleblower and the Justice Department.

BP denied any wrongdoing but said it moved to settle the case in part to avoid protracted, costly litigation.

"BP is the largest marketer of natural gas in North America, reliably and safely supplying energy to thousands of customers, including for many years California," the company said in a statement.

"As BP has stated consistently, the state's allegations were entirely without merit. BP strongly believes it honestly and fairly met its obligations under its contracts with the state."

For more energy news, follow Ivan Penn on Twitter: @ivanlpenn

UPDATES:

2:45 p.m.: This article was updated with a comment from BP.

This article was originally published at 11:45 a.m.

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