Halliburton Energy Services will plead guilty to destroying evidence related to the 2012 Gulf oil spill. The announcement was made in a press release by the Department of Justice on Thursday.
Halliburton was BP’s cement contractor on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which suffered a blowout and exploded in 2010, killing 11 workers on board. The incident also caused the worst oil spill in US history.
As a result of the plea deal, Halliburton will pay the maximum fine and be on probation for three years, reports The Associated Press. The will also continue to cooperate with the government’s criminal investigation.
The news release added that the company conducted its own review of technical aspects of the well’s design and construction. Halliburton also created “an internal working group to examine the Macondo well blowout, including whether the number of centralizers used on the final production casing could have contributed to the blowout.”
The destruction of evidence charge stems from when a Halliburton program manager ran computer simulations of the Macondo well’s cementing job. One used six centralizers, while the other used 21, notes CNN. The results showed little difference between the two, but federal officials claimed the program manager “was directed to, and did, destroy these results.”
Halliburton also recommended BP to use 21 centralizers. Instead, the oil company used six. Both companies are still arguing over who is at fault for the blowout and resulting oil spill. The government estimated that about 200 million gallons of oil poured out of the well into the Gulf of Mexico between April 20 and September 19 of 2010.
While the companies are still arguing over responsibility, a 2011 federal report concluded that Halliburton, BP, and Transocean (the owner of the Deepwater Horizon) all violated federal offshore safety regulations. Because of this, the government held all three companies responsible for the disaster.
BP has already admitted to manslaughter and 13 other charges and paid a $4 billion fined for it. Transocean also admitted to violating the Clean Water Act and paid $1.4 billion in damages, both civil and criminal. Halliburton is the last to admit criminal wrongdoing in the Gulf oil spill.
Along with pleading guilty to destroying evidence, Halliburton also made a separate $55 million “voluntary contribution” to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The payment was apparently not a condition of the plea agreement.
[Image by US Coast Guard via Wikimedia Commons]