Halliburton pleads guilty to destroying Gulf oil spill evidence
(Reuters) - Halliburton Co has agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Thursday.
The government said the 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 made a separate, voluntary $55 million payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Justice Department said.
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 of the settlement is required.
A Halliburton spokeswoman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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. Efforts to forensically locate the simulations were unsuccessful, the government said.
A document detailing the allegations was filed with the U.S. District Court in New Orleans.
BP and Transocean Ltd previously entered guilty pleas related to other aspects of the Gulf oil spill. Neither immediately responded to requests for comment.
The case is U.S. v. Halliburton Energy Services Inc, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, No. 13-00165.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York, Braden Reddall in San Francisco and David Ingram in Washington, D.C.; Editing by Gary Hill and Andre Grenon)
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