By TOM FOWLER
Halliburton will plead guilty to destroying evidence in the
wake of the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Justice
Department said Thursday.
The government said the company, which was a contractor
involved in drilling the oil well that exploded in the Gulf of
Mexico, destroyed computer simulations it performed in the
months after the accident.
Those simulations didn't bear out Halliburton's contention
that BP, which owned the well, erred by not following its
advice on using certain equipment, the Justice Department
BP had hired Halliburton to manage the process in which
cement is used to seal pipes into place in oil and gas wells,
preventing dangerous leaks. Investigators found that natural
gas surged up onto the drilling rig and exploded, killing 11
and unleashing the worst offshore oil spill in US history.
Government investigators warned companies involved in
drilling the well to preserve all evidence related to the
accident. But a Halliburton supervisor told engineers who
conducted the simulations to delete the data, according to a
filling in Federal District Court in New Orleans.
In addition to pleading guilty to one count of destruction
of evidence and paying an unspecified fine, Halliburton will
donate $55 million to the National Fish and Wildlife
Foundation, the government said.
Halliburton has long denied responsibility for the Deepwater
Horizon disaster, telling investigators that BP ignored its
warnings that the cement job would likely fail if BP didn't use
additional "centralizers," which hold pipes in place. The
simulations showed that the number of centralizers didn't make
a difference, the government said.
In a separate matter Thursday, Halliburton said it is part
of a federal antitrust investigation into the
A Justice Department spokeswoman said the antitrust division
"is investigating the possibility of anticompetitive practices
involving pressure-pumping services performed on oil and gas
Halliburton said other firms have been contacted by the
Justice Department and that Halliburton didn't believe it was
being singled out for scrutiny.
Dow Jones Newswires