Former BP drilling engineer, Kurt Mix, has been convicted by a federal jury of obstructing an investigation into the company’s oil spill, which occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
The 52-year-old engineer from Katy, Texas, was found guilty on one charge of obstruction of justice and acquitted of a second charge.
Prosecutors argued that Mix tried to destroy evidence when he deleted a number of text messages to and from a supervisor and a contractor of BP.
He was also accused of deleting two voicemail messages.
The jury deliberated for more than nine hours over three days, before reaching the verdict on Mix’s case. The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a $250,000 fine.
Following the judgment, defence attorney Joan McPhee said that they will continue to fight to ensure that justice is done in this case.
"We remain as convinced as ever of Kurt Mix’s innocence," McPhee said.
On 26 May 2010, the BP engineer sent a text message to his supervisor Jonathan Sprague, which stated that more than 630,000 gallons of oil per day were being spilt.
The text was said to be part of a string of messages exchanged between Mix and his supervisor, before they were deleted in October 2010. A further 17 messages were unable to be recovered.
In August 2011, Mix also deleted messages that were exchanged between himself and BP contractor Wilson Arabie, and several voicemails from Arabie and Sprague.
Mix will be released on his present bond with sentencing scheduled for March 2014.
Eleven workers were killed on 20 April 2010 when a blowout of the BP Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico triggered an explosion on the drilling rig.
Image: Smoke and fire emerge as oil burns during a controlled fire in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo: courtesy of petty officer 2nd class Justin Stumberg.