By Tom Fowler and Angel Gonzalez
BP PLC is alleging that Halliburton Co. destroyed evidence in the weeks following the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010 that demonstrated that the cement formula the firm used on the drilling operation was flawed.
The claim, made Monday in a federal civil-court filing in New Orleans, is the latest in a continuing volley of accusations between the companies as they face potentially huge civil and criminal penalties stemming from the 2010 accident in the Gulf of Mexico that killed a total of 11 people and led to the largest offshore oil spill in the U.S. history.
Halliburton has previously said that it believes the cement mix it recommended that BP use on the well was stable. It has argued that the well failed because of poor engineering and design choices made by BP.
BP argued in its filing that Halliburton conducted tests following the April 20, 2010, accident that determined that the same cement formula used on the Deepwater Horizon well did have problems.
A Halliburton spokeswoman said Monday that BP’s claims were “without merit, and we look forward to contesting their motion in court.”
According to depositions in a collection of civil lawsuits that are set to go to trial in February, a Halliburton technician in the company’s Duncan, Okla., research lab said he recreated the cement formula in late April or early May 2010 and found it to be “thin,” and not suitable for the job.
The employee testified he threw out the test results and didn’t put his conclusions in writing to a supervisor, because he was concerned they could be “misinterpreted” and his word “twisted and turned,” according to the filings.
Halliburton also created a computerized model of the well cement job after the accident that found that BP’s well design did not create the problems that Halliburton attributed to BP, according to the filing by BP on Monday.
BP claims Halliburton failed to provide records of the tests during the legal discovery process, and later told BP officials that data collected and materials used in the testing had been thrown out.
BP is asking a federal judge to sanction Halliburton for misconduct. It also demanded that a computer used for the analysis be turned over to an independent forensic testing firm.
In September, Halliburton made accusations of its own, saying that BP hid key information about the well in the Deepwater Horizon accident that could have prevented it. BP has denied that claim.
(c) 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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