Jonathan Stempel and Braden Reddall
July 27, 2013
- Third company to plead guilty over Gulf spill
- Halliburton to pay $200,000 fine
- $55 million to be donated to fish and wildlife group
The government said Halliburton’s guilty plea is the third by a company over the spill and requires the world’s second-largest oilfield services company to pay a maximum $200,000 statutory fine.
Halliburton also agreed to three years of probation and to continue cooperating with the criminal probe into the April 20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.
Court approval is required. Houston-based Halliburton also made a separate, voluntary $55 million payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Justice Department said.
Edward Sherman, a Tulane University law professor, said the plea could suggest weakness in Halliburton’s position in negotiating a settlement over spill-related liabilities.
“Their willingness to plead to this may also indicate that they’d like to settle up with the federal government on the civil penalties,” he said. “It may indicate a softening of their position.”
Halliburton confirmed in a statement that it pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge and confirmed the plea agreement’s terms.
The disaster caused 11 deaths and triggered the largest U.S. offshore oil spill following the rupture of the Macondo oil well, which was 65 percent owned by BP Plc. Halliburton had earlier provided cementing services to help seal the well.
According to the government, Halliburton recommended to BP that the Macondo well contain 21 centralizers, metal collars that can improve cementing, but BP chose to use six.
The government said that, during an internal probe into the cementing after the blowout, Halliburton ordered workers to destroy computer simulations that showed little difference between using six and 21 centralizers.