Acadiana Business

BP claims Halliburton destroyed evidence

by Leslie Turk

BP's assertion that Halliburton destroyed critical evidence about its cement is the latest in a legal battle that has both companies facing hundreds of lawsuits in the nation's worst offshore oil spill.

In New Orleans federal court Monday, BP claimed Halliburton intentionally destroyed evidence that could be used to prove the major oilfield services firm is partially responsible for the blowout that led to the worst oil spill in the nation's history and caused 11 workers' deaths. The evidence BP asserts was destroyed was related to the quality of the cement slurry used to drill the well.

To prevent blowouts, it is crucial that an oil well be properly cemented.

The Washington Post reports that BP claims in the filing that Rickey Morgan, a Halliburton employee who conducted post - incident testing on cement slurry samples from the well at the company's lab in Duncan, Oklahoma, "testified under oath that he destroyed test results in order to keep the information from being misinterpreted' in ways adverse to Halliburton in litigation."

According to BP, Morgan testified that during tests the slurry mixture separated, instead of foaming as designed, and looked "thin'' to him, an indicator of potential instability. Morgan said he didn't take notes of the tests and dumped out his samples partly because he feared the results could be harmful to the company in court, BP said.

The AP, which notes that BP did not return its calls but has told other media the accusations are false, reports that BP accused Halliburton of failing to produce incriminating computer modeling evidence related to these tests.

BP asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to penalize Halliburton and order a court-sponsored computer forensic team to recover the missing modeling results.

The allegations in the 310-page motion ratcheted up the showdown among BP and contractors, Halliburton and Transocean Ltd. The three companies have been sparring over blame for the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon blast, which killed 11 workers and led to the release of 206 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. So far, BP, the majority owner of the Macondo well, has footed the bill for the emergency response and cleanup.

Read the AP story here and the Post story here.