Halliburton pleads guilty to destroying evidence in aftermath of BP oil spill

Oilfield services company Halliburton formally pleaded guilty Thursday to destroying evidence from the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. 

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a criminal charge against Halliburton over the summer. The company then agreed to plead guilty and pay the maximum allowable fine of $200,000 and undergo three years of probation. Halliburton also voluntarily offered $55 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. 

The agreement was formalized Wednesday in court. 

A former Halliburton employee, Anthony Badalamenti, was also charged Thursday with one count of destroying evidence related to the Deepwater Horizon Spill, the DOJ said. 

“Halliburton and one of its managers have now been held criminally accountable for their misconduct, underscoring our continued commitment to ensuring that the victims of this tragedy obtain justice, and to safeguarding the integrity of relevant evidence,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. 

This settlement comes more than three years after the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, on April 20, 2010, that led to the biggest oil spill in U.S. history and the deaths of 11 workers. 

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About a month after the accident, Halliburton ordered its employees to destroy computer simulations of a cementing process. The company originally advised BP to install 21 metal centralizing collars to stabilize cementing. But BP decided to use six. 

Badalamenti was Halliburton’s cementing technology director at the time. 

A U.S. District Judge in the Eastern District of Louisiana, Jane Triche-Milazzo, said Thursday that Halliburton’s sentence of a fine and probation is sufficient punishment for the offenses. 

She noted Halliburton’s “self-reporting of the misconduct, substantial and valuable cooperation in the government’s investigation, and substantial efforts to recover the deleted data.” 

The Justice Department, however, is still investigating the incident. 

This story was updated Sept. 20 at 1:02 p.m.