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September 20, 2013

Judge accepts Halliburton plea in 2010 Gulf oil spill

DUNCAN — A federal judge has accepted a plea agreement that calls for Halliburton Energy Services to pay a $200,000 fine for destroying evidence after BP’s 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Halliburton pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor charge stemming from the deletion of data during a post-spill review of the cement job on BP’s blown-out Macondo well.

The company could have withdrawn its guilty plea if U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo had rejected its deal with the Justice Department.

Halliburton also agreed to make a $55 million contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, but that payment was not a condition of the deal.

The company was BP’s cement contractor on the drilling rig that exploded in the Gulf in April 2010, killing 11 workers.

Halliburton was founded in Duncan in by Erle P. Halliburton in 1919 and is one of the world’s largest providers of products and services to the energy industry. It employs 75,000 people worldwide and still has major manufacturing, research and testing facilities in Duncan.

As of June 30, the company employed about 2,500 full- and part-time workers in Duncan. It has dual headquarters in Houston and Dubai.

Also Thursday, a former Halliburton employee was charged with destroying evidence following the BP oil spill.

Anthony Badalamenti, who had been the cementing technology director for Halliburton Energy Services, was charged in federal court with instructing two other employees to delete data during the post-spill review of the cement job on BP’s blown-out well.

The 61-year-old Badalamenti of Katy, Texas, is charged in a bill of information, which typically signals that a defendant is cooperating with prosecutors.

Prosecutors said that in May 2010, Badalamenti directed a senior program manager to rum computer simulations on centralizers, which are used to keep the casing centered in the wellbore. The results indicated there was little difference between using six or 21 centralizers.

The data could have supported BP’s decision to use the lower number.

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