WASHINGTON — The US government on Wednesday announced a 5.2 million dollar fine against BP's US subsidiary for making "false, inaccurate or misleading" reports about its energy production on Native American land.


Officials said that the fine, levied by the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM), was imposed after BP gave misinformation about prices and royalty rates it paid for wells it leases on tribal lands in the southwestern state of Colorado.

BP said the error, which was unrelated to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, was caused by a glitch in their automated files, and promised to correct it.

The error was caught by an auditor for the Southern Ute Tribe, who first notified BP America and then reported it to federal officials.

"It is simply unacceptable for companies to repeatedly misreport production, particularly when it interferes with the auditing process," said BOEM Director Michael Bromwich in a statement.

"We are committed to collecting every dollar due from energy production that occurs on federal and American Indian lands, and accurate reporting is crucial to that effort."

Southern Ute Tribal Chairman Matthew Box stressed that the tribe felt it is important "to encourage oil and gas companies to accurately report the tribe's royalties."

The Interior Department statement said that tribal officials first brought the problem to BP's attention August 2, 2007.

Officials said BP is allowed to challenge the penalty through a Department of Interior hearing process.