The US federal court has charged Halliburton Energy Services’ former cementing technology director Anthony Badalamenti, for destroying evidence related to the deadly oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) in 2010, which killed 11 workers.
Badalamenti, who was BP‘s cement contractor on the drilling rig that exploded in the GoM, was believed to have instructed two other employees to delete key data during a post-spill review of the cement job on BP’s blown-out well.
According to prosecutors, Badalamenti had directed a senior programme manager in May 2010 to run computer simulations on centralisers, which are used to keep the casing centred in the wellbore.
Following his instructions, another Halliburton employee also deleted data from a separate round of simulations.
The director has been accused of giving such instructions, which indicated there was minute difference between using six or 21 centralisers. The deleted data is expected to have backed BP’s decision to use the lower number, AP reported.
Badalamenti, who has been charged in a bill of information that signals that a defendant is cooperating with prosecutors, is scheduled to be charged on 30 September.
Halliburton has also been asked to pay a $200,000 fine for a misdemeanor rising from Badalamenti’s alleged conduct.
The US District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo said the plea agreement is reasonable and agreed with prosecutors and the company that it "adequately reflects the seriousness of the offense."
US Attorney General Eric Holder said the oil and gas firm’s guilty plea and the charge against the director "mark the latest steps forward in the Justice Department’s efforts to achieve justice, on behalf of all those affected by the Deepwater Horizon explosion, oil spill, and environmental disaster."
Halliburton was not charged with a crime related to the causes of the disaster, unlike BP and Transocean, the rig owners.
In a deal it signed with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) in July pleading guilty for destroying evidence, Halliburton has agreed to pay a maximum statutory fine of $200,000, undergo a three-year probation term and contribute $55m to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Transocean also pleaded guilty in February to a misdemeanor charge of violating the Clean Water Act and agreed to pay $400m in criminal penalties.
Image: Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on the BP-operated Macondo Prospect. Photo courtesy of NASA/GSFC, MODIS Rapid Response AND demis.nl AND FT2.