BP says Halliburton destroyed Gulf spill evidence

Tue Dec 6, 2011 7:52am EST

Oil clean up stations sit along East Grand Terre near Grand Isle, Louisiana April 20, 2011. REUTERS/Sean Gardner

Oil clean up stations sit along East Grand Terre near Grand Isle, Louisiana April 20, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Sean Gardner

(Reuters) - BP Plc (BP.L) accused Halliburton Co (HAL.N) of destroying evidence that the oilfield services company did inadequate cement work on the Gulf of Mexico oil well that blew out last year, and asked a federal judge to punish Halliburton.

The accusation, in a BP court filing, raises the stakes ahead of a trial, expected in late February, to assign blame and damages for the April 2010 blowout of the Macondo well, which triggered the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Citing recent depositions and Halliburton's own documents, BP said Halliburton "intentionally" destroyed the results of slurry testing for the well, in part to "eliminate any risk that this evidence would be used against it at trial."

The oil company also said Halliburton appeared to have lost computer evidence showing how the cement performed, with Halliburton maintaining that the information is simply "gone."

BP asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans, who oversees spill litigation, to sanction Halliburton by ruling that Halliburton's slurry design was "unstable," a finding of fact that could be used at trial.

It also asked Barbier to direct that forensic experts be hired to find the missing computer data.

"These remedies are amply warranted in law and by principles of fair play, and they are essential to ensure this court's trial is not tainted by Halliburton's misconduct," BP said in the filing.

Halliburton is the world's second-largest oilfield services provider. A spokeswoman, Beverly Blohm Stafford, said the Houston-based company is reviewing BP's filing.

"We believe that the conclusion that BP is asking the court to draw is without merit and we look forward to contesting their motion in court," she said.

The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig's explosion on April 20, 2010, caused 11 deaths, and brought tens of billions of dollars of lawsuits. Halliburton has accused BP of fraud and defamation, among other claims.

BP has also sued Transocean Ltd (RIGN.VX), which owned the rig, and Cameron International Corp (CAM.N), which made a blowout preventer.

In October, Anadarko Petroleum Corp (APC.N), which owned 25 percent of the well, agreed to pay BP $4 billion toward clean-up costs and victims compensation.

BP has also reached settlements with Mitsui & Co (8031.T), whose MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC venture was a drilling partner, and Weatherford International Ltd WFT.S, which provided equipment used in the well.

The case is In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, No. 10-md-02179.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Gary Hill)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
melaniemod wrote:
Are you kidding me, Reuters? Your commercial during this article is for Shell gasoline? Where is the tact in the world?

Dec 06, 2011 5:44am EST  --  Report as abuse
MZeghlache wrote:
It sounds like this is the last hope for the movie director to realize this: http://youtu.be/2AAa0gd7ClM (thank you Frank)
It is less credible to believe such unmerited accuses after long milestones in this tragedy incident. I think that all possible accuses are sold out and BP needs to show more positive collaboration.
Assuming that the computer data is “gone”, ABC of oil industry is that service company supplies operating company with all computer data and discuss results prior to execution, and during execution. So BP should ask Mr. Carl Barbier to hire one expert to search for the data in their computers and another forensic expert in process insurance/reinforcement for these ABC’s.

Dec 06, 2011 2:42pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.