Halliburton Co. has agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The U.S. Department of Justice said Halliburton’s guilty plea is the third by a company over the spill and requires the world’s second-largest oilfield services company to pay a maximum $200,000 statutory fine. Halliburton also agreed to three years of probation and to continue cooperating with the criminal probe into the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Court approval of the agreement is required. Houston-based Halliburton also made a separate, voluntary $55 million payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, according to the U.S. Justice Department. As you may recall Halliburton owned 65 percent of the Macondo oil well. Prior to the explosion, Halliburton had earlier provided cementing services to help seal the well. Halliburton recommended to BP that the Macondo well contain 21 centralizers, metal collars that can improve cementing, but BP chose to use six. During an internal probe into the cementing after the blowout, Halliburton ordered workers to destroy computer simulations that showed little difference between using six and 21 centralizers. Efforts to locate the simulations forensically were unsuccessful.
You will recall that BP and Transocean Ltd., which owned the drilling rig, previously entered guilty pleas over other aspects of the oil spill, and agreed to pay respective criminal fines of $1.26 billion and $400 million. Halliburton, BP and Transocean are defendants in the federal civil trial that will apportion blame and set damages for the oil spill. The first witness for Halliburton, cementing service coordinator Nathaniel Chaisson, had testified in the first phase of the trial that he was concerned about BP’s use of just six centralizers. The second phase will resume in September.
Source: Insurance Journal
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