The US New Orleans jury has acquitted BP exploration former vice-president David Rainey of lying about the quantity of oil that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig in April 2010.
The US Government filed the case based on David Rainey’s statement given to FBI and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Justice Department lawyer Robert Zink told Reuters that the text messages and testimony from witnesses proved that Rainey understated the flow rate intentionally.
According to Zink, Rainey termed a 5,000-barrel-a-day estimate as BP’s ‘best scientific guess’ at the flow rate and sent it to Congress on 24 May 2010.
The Department of Justice said that a group of government and independent scientists assessed the situation and concluded that a total of over 60,000 barrels per day of oil leaked.
Following the rig explosion, BP said that approximately 1,000 barrels of oil per day were flowing into the Gulf of Mexico.
Rainey’s lawyer Reid Weingarten was cited by Reuters as saying that the prosecutors could not prove Rainey will lie to investigators.
In 2012, the company paid a $4bn settlement to the US and has also put aside $43.8bn to pay for the disaster.
In a regulatory filing in April, BP said it already paid more than $28bn in response, cleanup and compensation.
Under the Clean Water Act, BP is facing up to $13.7bn in penalties.
In May, the company settled the Deepwater Horizon financial claims with oilfield services provider Halliburton in the US and Swiss contract drilling firm Transocean.
On 20 April 2010, Deepwater Horizon, an ultra-deepwater, dynamically positioned, semi-submersible offshore oil drilling rig owned by Transocean, exploded while drilling at the Macondo Prospect.
The blowout killed 11 crewmen and caused a fireball visible from 40 miles away.
Image: Deepwater Horizon in flames after the explosion. Photo: courtesy of Mark Miller.