On April 20, 2010, a massive explosion erupted on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion, which killed 11 workers and resulted in the largest oil spill in U.S. history, took place on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which was owned and operated by Transocean on behalf of BP. The disaster, which stemmed from a blowout in a well that Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) had helped to construct, made international news and resulted in extensive follow-up investigations.

Today, a new development in the case emerged, as the Department of Justice announced that Halliburton subsidiary Halliburton Energy Services Inc. agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence after the company conducted its own internal follow-up investigation.

The evidence in question, says the DOJ, showed that on two separate occasions after the incident Halliburton conducted simulations to see if the use of 21 centralizers instead of six would have better ensured safety. Halliburton had previously recommended that BP use 21 of the stabilizing metal devices, but BP ended up using six. The results of each simulation showed that there was, in fact, little meaningful difference between the use of six and 21 centralizers. When the simulations showed this on two separate occasions, the results were ordered to be destroyed by Halliburton.

By signing the guilty plea agreement, the company admits to the criminal nature of its activity and will pay the maximum fine. The company may also be on probation for up to three years and separately made a $55 million contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Halliburton said in a press release that the fine is $200,000.


This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.