Gulf Oil Spill & Halliburton

Ruling from Investigatory Panel may Open Claims Against Halliburton

While many of us have heard much about the role BP played in the recent Gulf Oil Spill and the extent to which they may be liable for loss claims from those affected, the main culprit in this fiasco has escaped much of the scrutiny until now.  And it’s a name we’re all too familiar with hearing connected to scandal – Halliburton.

The operating arm of Dick Cheney’s conscience and puppet master of the Bush-era policies, Halliburton is still busy doing what they do best:  making huge sums of money at the expense of our country’s future.  This time it was the Gulf of Mexico and area residents who suffered.

Investigators from a presidential commission looking into causes of the Gulf Oil Spill have now made a direct finding of responsibility, concluding that BP and Halliburton knew that cement used to plug the well had failed lab tests and did not meet industry standards. Although they had data suggesting the foam cement was unstable, they used it anyway.

The commission concluded that if the cement used to seal the well had held, the explosion could have been avoided.  Worse yet, findings indicate that both companies knew of deficiencies in the cement as much as 5 weeks before the April explosion.

Government investigators uncovered a pattern of failed safety tests and lack of communication about results. For example, reports show that Halliburton notified BP on March 8, 2010 that the cement seal mix had failed a critical test for stability, however, both companies ignored the data. The cement was used to seal the well.

Just a week before the explosion, Halliburton was still conducting tests with different mixtures trying to get positive results.  After a first test showed the cement was still unstable, they changed the protocol for the test in order to return a good result.  Reports indicate BP was never told of the first failed test.

In independent testing on the cement run by Chevron at the request of the presidential commission, nine separate tests were performed.  The Halliburton cement failed each test. Reports indicate BP also conducted independent tests showing failure of the cement but these were criticized by Haliburton as using the wrong formula.

The lead investigator of the presidential panel, Fred H. Bartlit Jr., reported that, "There is no indication that Halliburton highlighted to BP the significance of the foam stability data or that BP personnel raised any questions about it."  Although Bartlit has not said the cement caused the explosion, he did indicate it could have prevented it.

Not surprisingly, Halliburton issued a statement disputing the findings of the commission.  It called the initial failed tests 'preliminary' and claimed that they informed BP of the later tests, which were 'irrelevant.' The company also claimed that adjustments were made after the final failed test.

Oil spill attorney and whistleblower advocate Riley Allen notes, “when you combine the long-standing culture of ignoring safety and covering up problems employed by BP, with the callous disregard by Halliburton of any safety issues that get in the way of making money, you have a disaster waiting to happen.  And, yet, there are those who say these industries need no regulation.”