Halliburton has agreed to plead guilty to destruction of evidence in the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling tragedy.
The plea deal — which is still subject to court approval — means they’ll pay the maximum available statutory fine, be subject to three years probation, and continue to cooperate with the government’s investigation.
The company made a separate and voluntary contribution of $55 million to the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.
According to details released today from the Department of Justice, employees were directed to and did destroy evidence of alleged wrongdoing in the disaster:
As detailed in the information, in connection with its own internal post-incident examination of the well, in or about May 2010, Halliburton, through its Cementing Technology Director, directed a Senior Program Manager for the Cement Product Line (Program Manager) to run two computer simulations of the Macondo well final cementing job using Halliburton’s Displace 3D simulation program to compare the impact of using six versus 21 centralizers. Displace 3D was a next-generation simulation program that was being developed to model fluid interfaces and their movement through the wellbore and annulus of a well. These simulations indicated that there was little difference between using six and 21 centralizers. Program Manager was directed to, and did, destroy these results.
In or about June 2010, similar evidence was also destroyed in a later incident. Halliburton’s Cementing Technology Director asked another, more experienced, employee (“Employee 1”) to run simulations again comparing six versus 21 centralizers. Employee 1 reached the same conclusion and, like Program Manager before him, was then directed to “get rid of” the simulations.
Efforts to forensically recover the original destroyed Displace 3D computer simulations during ensuing civil litigation and federal criminal investigation by the Deepwater Horizon Task Force were unsuccessful.
In agreeing to plead guilty, Halliburton has accepted criminal responsibility for destroying the aforementioned evidence.