Halliburton will plead guilty to a charge of destroying evidence related to the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. The company will pay the maximum $200,000 statutory fine under the deal, face three years of probation, and be required to continue to participate in a federal investigation.
Halliburton helped with the cementing process for the drill site. That involves placing a number of "centralizers," or metal rings, to aid the cementing along. And while the site should have used 21 centralizers, the Deepwater Horizon rig had just six — a decision made by BP, against Halliburton's recommendation. Halliburton, according to the press release from the Justice Department on the plea agreement, then set about destroying two computer simulations showing little difference between the use of six and 21 centralizers after criminal investigators from the Deepwater Horizon Task Force began to zero in on the cementing process. Halliburton is also giving $55 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation as a voluntary part of the agreement.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill killed 11 people and caused an astonishing amount of environmental damage in the Gulf, along with tens of billions of dollars in damage.
Halliburton now joins two other companies in pleading guilty to charges related to the spill. BP paid $1.6 billion in criminal fines as part of an earlier guilty plea, while Transocean Ltd. forked out $400 million. All three companies are still in the process of a civil trial that will determine the blame and damages incurred by all three companies.
Meanwhile, the company was on the bad end of another story today, when news broke that Halliburton is the subject of a federal antitrust investigation into the fracking industry.