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Halliburton admits to destroying oil spill evidence

A support ship related to the collection of oil from over the site of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil well transitions through a sheen of oil as workers tried to stem the flow of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on June 12, 2010.

Bad news for Halliburton this morning -- the oil services company has admitted to destroying evidence connected to the Gulf spill in 2010. The business will pay a $200,000 penalty, but says it will not face any criminal prosecution for the act.

Halliburton recommended to its client -- energy giant BP -- that they use 21 so-called collars to securely install a well pipe. BP went with six. Halliburton’s models showed that there was little difference, and that is the evidence Halliburton destroyed.

“Destroying evidence in my view, it’s really a cut above the other charges,” says Fadel Gheit, a senior oil analyst at Oppenheimer. Gheit says he’s not surprised that Halliburton tried to cover its tracks, particularly given the magnitude of the catastrophe.

“It resulted in the deaths of 11 people and the worst environmental disaster in history, so a company like Halliburton, or any other company…will try to distance itself as much as possible,” he says.

Today BP probably has a big smile on its face.

Stanley Reed, who co-wrote the book In Too Deep, about the company and the oil spill, says Halliburton’s involvement bolsters BP’s court case. 

“I think it will make it look like BP was not the only company at fault,” he says. Reed adds BP is facing a payout of anywhere from several to $20 billion in an on-going federal suit in New Orleans.

Halliburton’s admission could potentially save BP billions.

About the author

Dan Gorenstein is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Health Desk. You can follow him on Twitter @dmgorenstein.
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Ridiculous. The stockholders of Halliburton did not destroy evidence; a person did. Why isn't that person in jail?

There is certainly enough blame to go around, and in my opinion, everyone who uses petroleum products is also culpable. We enable that industry to prosper and that creates an entity that is willing to do whatever it takes to keep doing what they do. Cover ups, lieing, cheating and a total disregard for the environment and the health and well being of people is all part of the oil industry. They are strictly profit driven and ruthless in their efforts.

Haliburton has a history of corruptness, but their association with big government has kept them virtually immune from any repurcussions or responsibilty. Fining them $200K is not even a slap on the wrist. They spend more than that on one small bribe.

What we need to do as a nation, in my opinion, is to support clean and safe renewable energy in whatever we can. It won't be easy, but we need to do the little things that will help us transition to energy supplies that don't pollute. What we have now is an energy policy and energy production that promotes fear and greed while contaminating the very things (air, water and food) that we all need to survive as living organisms.

We need to pull away the curtain and see that the man behind it is controlling things with smoke and mirrors. Distractions laced with fear, are constantly preventing people from understanding that there are better ways to produce energy which can provide more than enough power for all of our needs including electric vehicles.

A transition to renewable energy and electric vehicles is not only possible, but necessary if the human race wants to live in a healthy and sustainable manner.

Instead of slapping a minimal fine on companies like Haliburton and BP, they should be charged with crimes against humanity and the environment, with severe penalties.

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