Financial News

  • 26 July 2013, 23:23

Halliburton To Plead Guilty Over Gulf Oil Spill

Halliburton is to plead guilty to destroying evidence in connection with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The US company has agreed to pay the maximum statutory fine of $200,000 (130,000), to stay on probation for three years and to continue to cooperate with the government's criminal investigation.

Halliburton, which is the world's second-largest oilfield services company, has also made a $55m(35.7m) voluntary contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Halliburton was BP's cement contractor on the drilling rig whose blowout triggered an explosion that killed 11 workers and spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

A Justice Department statement said Halliburton - which constructed the cement casing of the well at the centre of the disaster - had carried out its own internal investigations following the disaster in April 2010.

But results of computer simulations carried out in May and June 2010 were ordered to be destroyed and were unable to be recovered, the Justice Department said.

The company said in a statement that it had agreed to plead guilty "to one misdemeanour violation associated with the deletion of records created after the Macondo well incident".

The Justice Department has agreed it will not pursue further criminal prosecution of the company or its subsidiaries for any conduct arising from the 2010 spill, Halliburton's statement said.

The plea agreement is subject to court approval, the company said.

According to the government, Halliburton recommended to BP that the Macondo well contain 21 centralisers, metal collars that can improve cementing, but BP chose to use six.

The government said that, 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 centralisers.

Efforts to locate the simulations forensically were unsuccessful.

Halliburton and BP have blamed each other for the failure of the cement job to seal the Macondo well.

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill was the largest offshore oil disaster in US history, wreaking havoc on the region's environment and economy.