British oil giant BP says it has reached agreement with U.S. prosecutors to plead guilty to criminal charges and pay a record $4.5 billion for the deadly 2010 oil platform explosion and spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  

Under the deal, announced Thursday, BP will plead guilty to 11 felony counts of misconduct in the deaths of 11 platform workers killed in the so-called Deepwater Horizon explosion. The company also will plead guilty to one felony count of obstruction of Congress and pay $525 million in fines to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The April 20, 2010 platform blast touched off the biggest marine oil spill in the industry's history, sending nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf during a three-month period.

BP chief executive Bob Dudley said the company regrets the tragic loss of life caused by the accident, as well as the impact of the spill on the Gulf coast region.

Earlier this year, BP reached an agreement to settle claims from fishermen and others affected by the disaster for $7.8 billion, but it must still be approved by a federal judge and does not affect claims brought by the government.

The previous record fine was given to pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc, which paid a $1.3 billion fine in 2009 for marketing fraud.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.