BP will defend against fines of £18.9m over alleged market manipulation

BP has denied allegations made by US regulators of natural gas market manipulation, and has said that it will "vigorously defend against" them.

US regulators - the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) - are currently investigating several BP entitites.

The FERC bases its allegations on a recorded two-minute phone conversation between a BP trainee and BP natural gas trader that the regulator has taken completely out of context. The recording does not support any allegation of wrongdoing. In fact, the trainee involved in the conversation states that his characterization was incorrect and the trader never agrees with nor condones the trainee’s statements. The trader also reacts strongly to the trainee’s comments and interrupts him because the trainee’s comments -- as the trainee admits on the call -- are incorrect and inappropriate.

BP has been threatened with fines of around $29m (£18.9m). FERC has given BP 30 days to file a reply, as the latest in a string of moves since the regulator posted original allegations in 2011.

Last month saw FERC settle a market manipulation case with JP Morgan for $410m.