Halliburton Energy Services Inc. beseeched not guilty in federal magistrate court in New Orleans on Wednesday to a single malfeasance charge of destroying evidence involving employees erasing results of two sets of computer model tests conducted after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, which resulted in the deaths of 11 rig workers and the massive Gulf oil spill in April 2010.
After the prosecution, attorneys for the company and the Justice Department went into a closed conference with U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo, who planned a hearing for Sept. 19 at which the company will plead guilty to the charge.
Halliburton was hired by BP to supply cement for its Macondo well project. BP, the owner of the well, supervised the work of both Halliburton and Transocean, which staffed the Deepwater Horizon and rented it to the global oil giant.
The computer replications destroyed by company officials involved the effects of using six instead of 21 “centralizers,” bulging metal collars placed around the metal casing pipe inside the BP well to keep it centered in the drill hole while cement is poured. The company officials said the computer models used in the replications were not created until after the accident.
One of several details highlighted in the civil trial against BP and its contractors was the number of centralizers, including Halliburton, by attorneys representing private plaintiffs and federal and state governments.
They said decisions made by BP led to an improper cement job that let natural gas enter the casing and flow to the deck of the Deepwater Horizon, where it ignited and exploded, killing 11 workers and injuring dozens more.
The bill of information said the deleted test information actually found little difference between using six or 21 centralizers.