Remember the BP Oil Spill? Maybe We Should Call It The Halliburton Oil Spill?

01/04/2012 11:14 AM |

Photo courtesy of www.mirror.co.uk
  • Photo courtesy of www.mirror.co.uk

Seems like it’s been a while since we’ve seen Halliburton’s name in headlines. Almost too long, perhaps. But just when we thought BP was the bad guy of corporate bad guys, it looks like Halliburton could be the one made to pay the full price for the most disastrous oil spill in history.

Halliburton had something to do with the Gulf Oil Spill? Yes, yes it did. The American oil services magnate manufactured the cement used to plug the Deepwater Horizon well, the one that over the course of three months gushed 205.8 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Last month BP accused Halliburton of destroying computer modeling evidence that would incriminate them as using “unstable” cement slurry.

Citing recent depositions and Halliburton’s own documents, BP said Halliburton “intentionally” destroyed the results of slurry testing for the well, in part to “eliminate any risk that this evidence would be used against it at trial.”

The oil company also said Halliburton appeared to have lost computer evidence showing how the cement performed, with Halliburton maintaining that the information is simply “gone.” [Reuters]

Now, while the exact costs sought are still unknown, BP is suing Halliburton for the amount “equal to, or in the alternative proportional to Halliburton’s fault,” reports The Guardian. Full clean-up costs have previously been estimated at nothing short of $42 billion.

This wouldn’t even be the first time Halliburton has been accused of effing up a similar situation. In 2009, off the coast of Australia in the Timor sea, a well blew up, spewing 17,000-85,000 gallons of crude oil per day in the ten weeks it took for the oil company, PTT Exploration and Production, to fix it. Halliburton was employed as a contractor in cement work at the time, and one employee later “testified to the Australian commission that he made the problem worse at the Montara well by repumping concrete during an incorrectly handled procedure before the blowout.” [via NYTimes].

It gets better, if by better one means a lot worse. If you take a look at a recent history of deregulation, Halliburton’s ties to the oil spill precede both accidents. In legislation passed in 2005 under the Bush-Cheney administration, oversight measures on drilling operations were significantly lessened. Congress adopted many measures that may have been suggested by Dick Cheney’s secretive ‘Energy Task Force’ in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, one of which was to render the ‘acoustic switch,’ an emergency backup to shut off the flow of oil in case of a spill, unnecessary in rig construction. That switch, according to environmental lawyer Michael Papantonio, would have prevented the spill entirely.

Well. Uh. Guess it’s time to get out the popcorn and watch these two rip each other to shreds.