You’ve probably heard by now that oil services company Halliburton pleaded guilty to destroying evidence pertaining to the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster, which killed 11 men and triggered a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Project On Government Oversight has obtained both the criminal information outlining the government’s allegations and the plea agreement.
Halliburton pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor charge and agreed to a $200,000 fine (plus a $125 court assessment), three years of probation, and to continue cooperating with the government’s ongoing criminal investigation. Many are shaking their heads in disbelief at a $200,000 fine—the statutory maximum, according to the Department of Justice—for a company that recently reported $677 million in income in just one fiscal quarter. The plea agreement must still be approved by the court.
According to facts set forth in the criminal information, unnamed supervisors at Halliburton Energy Services, Inc., which provided cementing services at the oil well site, twice ordered employees to destroy the results of computer simulation tests performed on the well’s design and construction in the weeks following the disaster. At the time, Halliburton was under government orders to preserve all information, documents, and materials relating to the well.
Halliburton also announced that it made a $55 million contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), which is working to undo the ecological damage in the Gulf caused by the spill. The government emphasizes that Halliburton’s contribution was not in any way related to or conditioned on the terms of the plea agreement.