HOUSTON — Halliburton has agreed to plead guilty to the destruction of critical evidence after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, the Justice Department announced Thursday.
Halliburton, an oil services company, will pay the maximum allowable fine and be subject to three years of probation, the Justice Department said. It will also continue its cooperation in the government's ongoing criminal investigation.
The federal government filed one criminal charge against the company, which has suffered significant damage to its reputation since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers and soiled hundreds of miles of beaches. Halliburton is the third company — along with BP, the operator of the drilling site, and Transocean, which ran the rig — to plead guilty to a criminal charge related to the spill. Halliburton was responsible for mixing cement used for the well.
Lawyers representing businesses and others that suffered from the spill had long accused the company of conducting undocumented cement tests and then hiding the results.
During the trial this year, Thomas Roth, a senior company executive in charge of cementing operations at the time of the spill, acknowledged that because of the well design and other factors, "the cement placement was going to be a job that would have a low probability of success."
The failure of the cement foam seal set off a complex and ultimately deadly cascade of oil and gas up the well casing that exploded into flames to engulf the Deepwater Horizon rig.