Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the
offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, off Louisiana, in this
April 2010 file photo. REUTERS/US Coast Guard/Handout
Halliburton Co has agreed to plead guilty to destroying
evidence related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the US
Department of Justice says.
The government 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 April
20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.
Court approval is required. Houston-based Halliburton also
made a separate, voluntary $55 million payment to the
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Justice Department
Edward Sherman, a Tulane University law professor, said the
plea could suggest weakness in Halliburton's position in
negotiating a settlement over spill-related liabilities.
"Their willingness to plead to this may also indicate that
they'd like to settle up with the federal government on the
civil penalties," he said. "It may indicate a softening of
Halliburton confirmed in a statement that it pleaded guilty
to the misdemeanor charge and confirmed the plea agreement's
The disaster caused 11 deaths and triggered the largest US
offshore oil spill following the rupture of the Macondo oil
well, which was 65 percent owned by BP Plc. Halliburton had
earlier provided cementing services to help seal the well.
According to the government, Halliburton recommended to BP
that the Macondo well contain 21 centralizers, 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 centralizers.
Efforts to locate the simulations forensically were
unsuccessful, the government said.
A document detailing the allegations was filed with the US
District Court in New Orleans.
BP and Transocean Ltd, which owned the drilling rig,
previously entered guilty pleas over other aspects of the
Gulf oil spill, and agreed to pay respective criminal fines
of $1.26 billion and $400 million.
Both declined to comment on the Halliburton plea.
Halliburton, BP and Transocean are also defendants in a
federal civil trial that began in February to apportion blame
and set damages for the oil spill.
The first witness for Halliburton, cementing service
coordinator Nathaniel Chaisson, had testified that he was
concerned about BP's use of just six centralizers.
The trial is scheduled to resume in September. Halliburton
said in April it was in talks to settle private claims
against it in the damages trial.
The case is US v. Halliburton Energy Services Inc, US
District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, No. 13-00165.
The main spill trial is in re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig
"Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010
in the same court, No. 10-md-02179.