Pariah oil company BP is settling charges by paying $25 million in civil fines over two oil spills on Alaska's North Slope in 2006, and for basically ignoring court orders to properly maintain their pipelines. How shocking! According to a report in the Times, "The fine is the largest per-barrel assessment ever levied against an oil company in a spill case and represents a new blow to BP's corporate treasury and reputation." Yes, it's a new blow to BP's reputation, but it's doubtful the company's rep can get much worse than it already is.

Here's the government's take:

"This penalty should serve as a wake-up call to all pipeline operators that they will be held accountable for the safety of their operations and their compliance with the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the pipeline safety laws," Ignacia S. Moreno, head of the environmental enforcement division at the Justice Department, said in a conference call with reporters. "This agreement will help prevent future environmental disasters and protect the fragile ecosystem of Alaska's North Slope."

This is hopefully the start of something much bigger for BP, which is facing around $20 billion in fines from the Gulf of Mexico clusterfuck. But in other news, crude oil futures fell to $112 per barrel on the NYMEX, which is still a pretty nice take. Hang tight, BP — It'll only sting for a little while.

[Image of BP's 2006 Alaska spill via AP]