NEW ORLEANS — A lawyer for BP PLC entered a not-guilty plea for the company as it was arraigned on charges stemming from a deadly 2010 rig explosion and massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The plea Tuesday in federal court was a procedural move paving the way for a later guilty plea. It doesn’t signal that BP is backing away from its plea agreement, company and government lawyers said.

Search photos available for purchase: Photo Store →

BP announced earlier this month that it will plead guilty to manslaughter, obstruction of Congress and other charges and pay a record $4.5 billion in penalties to resolve a federal probe of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Attorneys for BP and the Justice Department are scheduled to meet Dec. 11 with a federal judge to discuss a date for pleading guilty.