BP oil spill manager faces jail

2014-01-21 17:57

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New Orleans - A former Halliburton manager faces a possible prison term when a federal judge sentences him for destroying evidence in the aftermath of BP's massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Anthony Badalamenti was scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday by US District Judge Jay Zainey. Badalamenti pleaded guilty in October to one misdemeanour count of destruction of evidence and faces a maximum sentence of 1 year in prison and a $100 000 fine.

Badalamenti was the cementing technology director for Halliburton Energy Services, BP's cement contractor on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Prosecutors said he instructed two Halliburton employees to delete data during a post-spill review of the cement job on BP's blown-out Macondo well.

Halliburton cut its own deal with the Justice Department and pleaded guilty in September to a misdemeanor charge related to Badalamenti's conduct. The company agreed to pay a $200 000 fine and make a $55m contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, but the latter payment wasn't a condition of the deal.

Tai Park, one of Badalamenti's lawyers, said in October that guidelines calculated by prosecutors call for Badalamenti to receive a sentence ranging from probation to six months in prison. Zainey, however, isn't bound by the sentencing guidelines.

Four current or former BP employees also have been charged in federal court with spill-related crimes.

On 18 December, a jury convicted former BP drilling engineer Kurt Mix of trying to obstruct a federal probe of the spill. Prosecutors said Mix was trying to destroy evidence when he deleted a string of text messages to and from a BP supervisor.

Botched test

Mix faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250 000 fine. His sentencing is set for 26 March.

BP well site leaders Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges stemming from the deaths of 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon. Prosecutors claim Kaluza and Vidrine botched a key safety test and disregarded abnormally high pressure readings that were glaring signs of trouble before the April 2010 blow-out of BP's Macondo well triggered a deadly explosion.

Former BP executive David Rainey was charged with concealing information from Congress about the amount of oil that was gushing from BP's well before the company sealed it.

Prosecutors said Badalamenti instructed two Halliburton employees to delete data from separate runs of computer simulations on centralizers, which are used to keep the casing centered in the wellbore. The data could have supported BP's decision to use six centralizers instead of 21 on the Macondo project, but prosecutors said the number of centralizers had little effect on the outcome of the simulations.

Halliburton notified the Justice Department about the deletion of the data, which couldn't be recovered.

Read more on:    bp  |  halliburton  |  us  |  environment  |  us oil slick

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