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Halliburton asks judge to accept plea deal for allegedly destroying Deepwater Horizon well tests

Halliburton Energy Services, the company BP contracted to perform cementing work on its Macondo well, has asked a federal judge in New Orleans to accept its guilty plea for destroying evidence that could have helped investigators understand the company’s role in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which killed 11 workers and set off the largest oil spill in U.S. history. The U.S. Justice Department had accused Halliburton of deliberately destroying computer simulation files it generated in May and June of 2010 depicting the strength of its cementing work on the Macondo well shaft using six reinforcing stabilizers instead of 21. The comparative tests were run twice, and ... Read More

ExxonMobil’s Arkansas oil spill trial set for June 2014

ExxonMobil Corp. may go to trial in June to face pollution charges stemming from its March 29 oil spill that left an Arkansas community swamped in highly toxic tar sands crude. U.S. District Judge James Moody’s proposed schedule calls for the trial to start during the week of June 16. ExxonMobil faces a joint lawsuit filed by federal and Arkansas authorities seeking damages for its alleged violations of the U.S. Clean Water Act, the Arkansas Water and Air Pollution Control Act, and other federal and state anti-pollution statutes. Exxon’s Pegasus pipeline, a 70-year-old pipe that moves refined Canadian tar sands ... Read More

Justice Department removes three prosecutors from BP oil spill obstruction case

Three key U.S. prosecutors have been withdrawn from the forthcoming trial of Kurt Mix, a former BP engineer facing federal obstruction charges for deleting hundreds of voicemails and text messages considered relevant to the ongoing investigation of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, U.S. Justice Department officials have said. According to Law 360, a Justice Department spokesperson said that the attorneys’ exit, which U.S. District Judge Stanwood R. Duval approved, was “merely a staffing adjustment” and shouldn’t affect preparations for the trial, scheduled to begin December 2. Mr. Mix was a drilling and completions project engineer at BP who was involved ... Read More

Report on deadly Gulf rig explosion exposes Black Elk’s poor safety record

An independent report ordered by Houston-based Black Elk Energy LLC and released August 21 indicates that a contractor hired by the company to perform welding work failed to follow standard safety protocols, thereby causing an explosion on a Gulf of Mexico oil rig in November, killing three workers and injuring several others. The report, conducted by ABSG Consulting Inc. in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) during the course of an eight-month probe, found that subcontracted workers welding pipes connected to an oil tank failed to follow Black Elk’s safety procedures, resulting in the ignition ... Read More

Federal regulators propose tougher rule governing offshore oil drilling safety

Federal safety regulators proposed a new rule last week that would update and strengthen offshore oil and gas drilling safety as energy giants reach into deeper and riskier waters for production. The proposed rule is one of several rule changes and other measures to improve worker and environmental safety adapted by the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) since BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in April 2010, killing 11 workers and triggering the worst oil spill in U.S. history.The new rule would require stricter life cycles for critical safety and pollution-prevention equipment to ensure it will function as required ... Read More

New study finds BP oil spill pollution much worse than previous government findings

Researchers have found significantly higher contamination levels in water, sediment, and seafood collected from the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 during and after BP’s massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill than scientists from federal agencies found, a new report published in the Marine Pollution Journal reveals.According to the New York Times, the study’s findings cast doubts on the sampling methods used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its results, which the agency used to determine where and when to reopen 88,000 square miles of Gulf waters closed to commercial and recreational fishing after the spill. Other non-government studies ... Read More

BP sues EPA in effort to recover new drilling contracts in Gulf of Mexico

BP’s legacy of environmental destruction, which started long before it created the biggest oil spill in U.S. history, has earned it a criminal record and a reputation as a big polluter that will stop at nothing to boost profits. But rather than adopting a genuinely responsible corporate culture and addressing its deficiencies, the oil giant has instead invested millions in deceptive commercials and newspaper advertisements designed to evoke public sympathy and recast itself as a company that Americans can count on to do the right thing. But little of that has worked so far, and now BP may be taking ... Read More

Judicial panel rejects motion to create another BP oil spill multidistrict litigation

A group of claimants allegedly harmed by BP’s 2010 oil spill who opted out of the March 2012 settlement agreement or were excluded from it have had their request to form a new multidistrict litigation (MDL) denied. The parties asked the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) that their claims against BP be consolidated into a new multidistrict litigation in the Southern District of Mississippi, separate from the giant MDL the JPML formed in federal court in New Orleans in August 2010. The settlement agreement reached between BP and the plaintiffs’ lawyers in March 2012 is designed to resolve hundreds ... Read More

Court orders BP to pay $130-million administrative bill, BP loses appeal

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan on Wednesday ordered BP to pay $130 million in administrative costs to the Deepwater Horizon Claims Center – an advance payment for the oil-spill fund administrator’s third-quarter costs, which BP had earlier refused to pay. Judge Shushan said that BP’s demands for analysis, metrics and explanatory notes of each item in the DHCC’s budget request were unwarranted. In an August 3 letter, BP officer Maria Travis told a senior claims official within the center that administers damage claims to individuals and businesses harmed by BP’s massive 2010 Gulf oil spill that BP would not pay ... Read More

New report finds dispersed BP oil penetrates Gulf sand deeper, lasts longer

Scientists are finding more troubling news that the chemical oil dispersants BP used in the Gulf of Mexico to break up its massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill may be doing more environmental damage than good. While previous studies documented how BP’s oil dispersants created giant toxic plumes of dissipated oil that could remain on the Gulf floor for the next century, a new study has found the same dispersed oil is penetrating deep into the sand on shore. Markus Huettel, a professor in Florida State University’s Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science, and Alissa Zuijdgeest, a graduate student at ... Read More