Halliburton Destroys BP Oil Spill Evidence, Gets an Underwhelming $200K Fine (But That's Not the End of the Story)
British Petroleum has been synonymous with the Gulf Coast Oil spill -- called the worst environmental disaster in American history by some -- since the Deepwater Horizon rig blew out on April 20, 2010, killing 11 and starting a leak that dumped almost 5 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Photo from the U.S. Coast Guard
After the well blew out, all the parties involved -- BP, Halliburton and Transocean, the operator of the Deepwater rig -- were ordered to keep everything pertaining to the work being done on the well for the impending, inevitable investigation. All three companies have pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the years after the disaster, but BP has been the company most directly associated with the spill. (Who doesn't call it the *BP* oil spill?)
But as of now, BP is getting something of a break.
It turns out Halliburton (Yep, the one former Vice President Dick Cheney made a little more famous) didn't exactly follow instructions about the evidence, according to the Washington Post. Halliburton had advised the folks over at BP to use 21 centralizers -- metal collars placed on the outside of the steel pipe to help stabilize the pipe -- but BP only used six.
After the well blew, Halliburton employees ran simulations to test whether not using more centralizers contributed to the accident. That's all harmless enough, relatively speaking, but the Houston-based company proceeded to delete the tests, results and all, which went against federal investigator directions about as clearly as someone telling you to go right means you veer left.
Halliburton agreed to plead guilty to one count of destroying evidence in connection with the Deepwater disaster, according to the U.S. Justice Department. To settle things out, the company will pay $200,000, the maximum statutory fine, and has agreed to continue cooperating with the government's ongoing criminal investigation. Halliburton is also "voluntarily" donating $55 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.