Halliburton Admits Destroying Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Evidence

Written by: Tsveta van Son
July 26, 2013

iNVEZZ.com, Friday, July 26th: Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL), the US contractor which worked with BP Plc (LON:BP, NYSE:BP) on the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, has admitted destroying evidence relating to the disaster which killed 11 workers and set off the worst offshore oil spill in US history. Halliburton’s share price closed approximately one percent lower on the NYSE on Thursday, whereas BP’s share price closed marginally higher.

**Halliburton Pleads Guilty to Destroying Evidence**
Texas-based Halliburton said yesterday in a statement that it had reached an agreement with the US Department of Justice to conclude the department’s criminal investigation of the company relating to the Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico which involved the Macondo well. Halliburton had supplied cement intended to seal the well. The company also said that one of its units, Halliburton Energy Services Inc, had agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanour violation related to the deletion of records created after the incident.

The Halliburton unit will pay the statutory maximum fine of $200,000 (£130,000) and accept a term of three years’ probation. The plea is subject to court approval. Halliburton has also made a voluntary $55 million (£35.8 million) contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
In a statement yesterday, the US Department of Justice said that Halliburton had recommended to BP that the Macondo well contain 21 centralizers, protruding metal collars potentially significant to the quality of cementing, but BP chose to use six instead. The Justice Department noted that during an internal probe into the cementing after the incident, Halliburton had ordered workers to destroy computer simulations which indicated that there was little difference between using six and 21 centralizers.

Efforts to forensically recover the original destroyed computer simulations had been unsuccessful, the Justice Department said, adding that in agreeing to plead guilty, Halliburton had “accepted criminal responsibility for destroying the aforementioned evidence”.
**Spill Settlement**
In its coverage of the news, Reuters quoted Edward Sherman, a Tulane University law professor, as saying that Halliburton’s plea could suggest weakness in the contractor’s position in negotiating a settlement over liabilities related to the oil spill.

!m[BP Contractor Pleads Guilty](/uploads/story/4356/thumbs/pic1_inline.jpg)
“Their willingness to plead to this may also indicate that they’d like to settle up with the federal government on the civil penalties,” Sherman added. “It may indicate a softening of their position.” In April, Halliburton said that it was trying to negotiate a settlement over its role in the disaster.

As The Times has reported, BP and Halliburton have blamed each other for the failure of the cement job to seal the Macondo well, with BP asking a federal judge to sanction Halliburton for allegedly destroying evidence about the role that its cement slurry design could have played in the disaster.
**Halliburton’s share price closed 1.07 percent down at $44.34 in New York on 25 July 2013.**
**BP’s share price closed 0.58 percent higher at $43.69 and added 0.02 percent to $43.70 in after-hours trading. In London, BP’s share price was 0.25 percent down at 472.35p as of 08:24 BST on July 26.**

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