Halliburton pleads guilty and receives slap on the wrist

Halliburton has agreed to plead guilty to destruction of critical evidence after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010. The oil services company said it would pay the maximum allowable fine of $200,000 and will be subject to three years of probation. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/26/business/halliburton-pleads-guilty-to-destroying-evidence-after-gulf-spill.html?hp  Halliburton , BP and Transocean, the operator of the Deepwater Horizon rig —were responsible for the explosion that killed 11 workers and soiled hundreds of miles of beaches. All three companies have pleaded guilty to a criminal charge related to the spill.

“The Department of Justice has agreed that it will not pursue further criminal prosecution of the company.”

Halliburton had recommended to BP, the British oil company, before the drilling that the well include 21 metal centralizing collars to stabilize the cementing. BP chose to use six instead. During an internal probe after the accident, Halliburton ordered workers to destroy computer simulations that showed little difference between using six and 21 collars after which the company continued to say that BP was neglectful to not follow its advice.

Lawyers representing businesses and others that suffered from the spill had long accused the company of conducting undocumented cement tests and hiding the results. BP had accused Halliburton of destroying evidence of its cement testing.

The failure of the cement foam seal set off a complex and ultimately deadly cascade of oil and gas up the well casing that exploded into flames to engulf the Deepwater Horizon rig. The blowout preventer, which is supposed to contain a well bore breach, also failed.

The presidential commission that investigated the accident reported that Halliburton officials knew before the explosion that the cement mixture they planned to use to seal the bottom of the well was unstable but still went ahead with the cementing.

Halliburton has also found itself under scrutiny over accusations that it performed shoddy, overpriced work for the United States military in Iraq, bribed Nigerian officials to win energy contracts and did business with Iran at time when it faced sanctions.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23447894

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