July 27, 2013
Halliburton Spill Investigation: Company Admits It Destroyed Evidence

The Halliburton spill saga could be resolved by their agreement to pay a fine of $200,000. They also have to admit that they destroyed vital evidence needed for the investigation carried out by the U.S. Justice Department.

However, this plea bargain doesn't protect Halliburton from the possibility of further claims arising from the rig blowout. A federal judge is currently considering the allocation of further payments for damages to businesses and residents affected by the explosion. A number of companies were involved in the construction and operation of the rig; the compensation each one will have to pay will depend upon the judge's allocation of blame.

Halliburton was the cement contractor for BP for the Deepwater Horizon rig. It has to decide whether to wait for the court's verdict, or try to settle the tens of thousands of claims. Halliburton is afraid that the fact it pleaded guilty to the other charges will not sit well with the court in the future. Consequently it is attempting to settle a "substantial portion" of the private claims in advance of any hearing. However, the talks have been delayed by B.P. raising other legal issues regarding their liability.

While Halliburton won't have to face further criminal charges, it is possible that some of its employees will. The Justice Department confirmed that it won't prosecute the company any further, but gave no such guarantee regarding its workers.

BP itself has agreed to pay $4.0 billion in damages and compensation, and accepted that it was guilty of the manslaughter of the workers who died. Transocean Ltd., the owners of the rig, agreed to pay a $400 million criminal fine and to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge.

Fadel Gheit, a senior analyst who covers the oil and gas industry, thought that Halliburton would be liable to pay more."I call it a traffic violation," he said. "This is for (a company) that destroyed evidence, for heaven's sake."

For sure, Halliburton's problems are far from over. BP has also lodged a claim against it for its role in the affair, and attorney's for the plaintiffs in the civil suit accuse it of "gross negligence."