Deepwater Horizon - Transocean Oil Rig Fire


#7441

How BP Got Screwed on Gulf Oil Spill Claims - Businessweek

Until this year, Tampa attorney Kevin McLean specialized in suing nursing homes for neglecting patients. In January he switched the focus of his practice to a fund BP (BP) established to compensate business losses from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In its attempt to dilute a legal and public-relations mess of epic proportions, BP began paying claims within weeks of the disaster and has so far spent more than $25 billion for cleanup and compensation. That hasn’t stemmed demands for more. The installation last year of a particularly generous claims administrator prompted scores of additional plaintiffs’ attorneys to swarm onto the scene, signing up a new wave of clients, many located far from the once-sullied shoreline. Just five months after his pivot, McLean’s three-attorney firm has 260 clients with claims ranging from $20,000 to $4 million apiece. “The craziest thing about the settlement,” he wrote in a solicitation letter, “is that you can be compensated for losses that are UNRELATED to the spill.”

One of McLean’s clients, a real estate agent in Brandon, Fla., an hour from the Gulf, wants $80,000 from BP, reflecting a revenue dip in 2010 that “had nothing to do with the spill,” the attorney candidly admits. (The culprit was the bursting of the Florida real estate bubble.) Under the settlement, though, “that’s a good claim,” McLean says, “and we’re going to get paid.”

He has millions of reasons to be confident. A construction company in northern Alabama, 200 miles from the coast, was recently awarded $9.7 million, even though it does no work near the Gulf of Mexico, according to court records. Attorneys are submitting claims ON THEIR OWN BEHALF. A law office in CENTRAL LOUISIANA that actually enjoyed improved profits in 2010 collected $3.3 million. The compensation process is confidential, so claimants’ identities aren’t a matter of public record, though the amounts are.
(Article continues five pages)

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The last three paragraphs of the article follows and provides information on Tarpon Springs, Fl. Apparently there are still some honest community leaders in a few communities In Florida. Congratulation to the Tarpon Springs city administration for not capitulating to the dozen law firms trying entice you into being a party to making fraudulent claims. Visit Tarpon Springs. http://www.tarponspringschamber.org/

Not every eligible claimant is extending an open palm in BP’s direction. While cities all along Florida’s west coast, from Tampa to Key West, have filed claims, Tarpon Springs (pop. 23,000) has decided to sit tight. It relies heavily on fishing and tourism, but Macondo oil did not reach its marinas, says City Manager Mark LeCouris. “I’d love to have an extra $1 million or $2 million or $3 million for the budget,” he concedes. “We just couldn’t document any losses related to BP, as opposed to the difficult times generally from the economy.”

The oil company’s money, LeCouris continues, should go to “shrimpers or fishermen or restaurant owners who can really show they were shut down and need the help. We didn’t want to take anything away from people who were really hurting as a result of the spill.” After Tarpon Springs’ reticence received some local press coverage this spring, LeCouris braced for the worst. “I thought we’d have a lot of people angry at us that we didn’t get whatever we could,” he says. To his surprise, a lot of Tarponians congratulated him on doing the right thing.

The main protest came from the dozen or so law firms seeking to take the city’s case in exchange for a fat contingency fee, LeCouris says. “They just kept calling and calling, telling us to do something. We said we didn’t think we had a case, so no thanks.”


#7442

Deepwater Horizon Debris Was Likely Source of Gulf of Mexico Oil Sheens | “Global Possibilities”

July 16, 2013 — A chemical analysis of oil sheens found floating recently at the ocean’s surface near the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster indicates that the source is pockets of oil trapped within the wreckage of the sunken rig. Both the Macondo well and natural oil seeps common to the Gulf of Mexico were confidently ruled out.
Researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) used a recently-patented method to fingerprint the chemical makeup of the sheens and to estimate the location of the source based on the extent to which gasoline-like compounds evaporated from the oil sheens. The study was published online this week in Environmental Science & Technology.
The oil sheens were first reported to the United States Coast Guard by BP in mid-September 2012, raising public concern that the Macondo well, which was capped in July 2010, might be leaking.
“It was important to determine where the oil was coming from because of the environmental and legal concerns around these sheens. First, the public needed to be certain the leak was not coming from the Macondo well, but beyond that we needed to know the source of these sheens and how much oil is supplying them so we could define the magnitude of the problem,” said WHOI chemist Chris Reddy.
When oil sheens appear on the ocean surface, how do researchers determine where the oil is coming from? Every oil sample contains chemical clues pointing to the reservoir it came from, allowing scientists to compare it to other samples to determine if they share a common source. The lead scientists Chris Reddy (WHOI) and Dave Valentine (UCSB) were aptly prepared to investigate these sheens. They have worked on the Deepwater Horizon for much of the last three years, investigating a wide range of problems from the composition of the oil, detection of subsurface plumes, the biodegradation of the oil, the fate of the dispersants, and the chemical transition from floating oil slicks to sunken tar balls.
“Because of our ongoing funding from the National Science Foundation, we were prepared to interrogate the source of mysterious oil sheens in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Valentine. “We’ve been exploring new ways to do this for several years in the context of natural seeps and this event provided us an opportunity to apply our fundamental advances to a real-world problem. This is a classic case where fundamental science finds a real world application.”
This research analyzed 14 sheen samples they skimmed from the sea surface during two trips to the Gulf of Mexico. Using comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GCxGC), a technique developed in Reddy’s lab, the researchers first confirmed the sheens contained oil from the Macondo well. But the sheen samples also contained trace amounts of “olefins” — industrial chemicals that are used in drilling operations — compounds that were absent from the sample taken directly from the Macondo well. The presence of “olefins” provided a fingerprint for the sheens that the authors could compare to the library of samples they had analyzed over the past three years.
The “olefins” are not found in crude oil and their uniform distribution in the sheens indicated that the Macondo well was unlikely to be the source. The team surmised that the sheens must be coming from equipment exposed to olefins during drilling operations. Reddy’s lab holds a patent on measuring olefins in crude oils.
“The occurrence of these human-made olefins in all of our sheen samples points to a single main source which contains both Macondo oil and lesser amounts of the drilling fluids that harbor the olefins,” said Valentine. “This pointed us to the wreckage of the rig, which was known to have both, as the most likely source for the sheens.”
It also meant the olefins could be used by the team as a fingerprint in the search for the source of the leak.
The research team compared the sheen samples to other field samples, some of which they expected would contain olefins and some they thought would not. The reference samples included two pieces of debris from the Deepwater Horizon, found floating in early May 2010, as well as oil collected by BP in October 2012 during an inspection of the 80-ton cofferdam that had been abandoned at the sea floor after its use in a failed attempt to cover the Macondo well in 2010.
The team’s GCxGC analysis of BP’s cofferdam samples definitively showed the cofferdam was not the sole source of the leak — there were no olefins present. Prior to the analysis, the cofferdam had become the prime suspect as the source when BP found small amounts of oil leaking from the top of the cofferdam. BP acquired oil samples from this leak point before sealing the leak, thinking they had resolved the problem. However, the sheens on the sea surface persisted, and the lack of olefins pointed to another source entirely.
When Reddy and Valentine compared the chemical makeup of the sheens with Deepwater Horizon debris found floating in 2010, they found a match. That debris, which came from the rig itself, was coated with oil and contaminated with drilling mud olefins.
“The ability to fingerprint synthetic hydrocarbons allowed us to crack this case. We were able to exclude a number of suspects and match the olefin fingerprint in the new oil slicks to that of the wreckage from the sunken rig,” said Valentine.


#7443

BP asks federal court to suspend claims payments during fraud investigation | NOLA.com
July 16, 2013 at 7:00 PM, updated July 16, 2013 at 8:09 PM

Attorneys for British oil giant BP asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier late Tuesday for a preliminary injunction to temporarily suspend payments of private economic claims until former FBI Director Louis Freeh completes an investigation of alleged fraud in the multibillion-dollar claims payment program.

BP said the program has been paying out more than $73 million a week at a time when it’s being investigated for fraud, following the firing of two of its senior legal counsel “after apparently intervening in the processing of claims in which they appear to have had a financial stake.”

Barbier appointed Freeh as special master to investigate alleged misconduct in the office run by Lafayette-based lawyer Patrick Juneau after Juneau’s own internal investigation of senior attorney Lionel H. Sutton III accused him of writing policies that benefited himself and other plaintiff attorneys. The report also said a “confidential source” had accused Sutton of trying to influence a claim filed by a New Orleans law firm. That firm had allegedly paid Sutton a share of settlement payments for claims referred to the law firm by Sutton before he joined the claims office.

Juneau also reported to Barbier on July 2 that he had terminated the contract of Sutton’s wife, Christine Reitano, who also worked as a lawyer for the program, but Juneau’s report did not explain the termination.

“While the investigation is just beginning regarding their involvement in other policies, it is undisputed that Mr. Sutton and Ms. Reitano were in a position to influence or control the outcome of virtually every policy decision made by CSSP,” said a BP memorandum in support of its motion.

Reitano also represented claimants before the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, the office run by Ken Feinberg that preceded the court-appointed claims office.


#7444

Halliburton to plead guilty to destroying Deepwater Horizon evidence, pay $200,000 fine | NOLA.com

Halliburton Energy Services Inc., the company that oversaw cement pouring during the drilling of the BP Macondo well, has agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence connected to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and to pay a $200,000 fine, the U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday. Government attorneys filed a criminal bill of information charging Halliburton with one count of destruction of evidence.

Company officials twice destroyed computer simulations of the effects of using six instead of 21 “centralizers,” protruding metal collars placed around the casing inside the BP well to keep it centered in the drill hole while cement is poured, according to the bill, filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans.

“Prior to the blowout, defendant Halliburton had recommended to BP the use of 21 centralizers in the Macondo well,” according to the bill of information. “BP opted to use six centralizers instead.”

The number of centralizers was one of several details highlighted in the civil trial against BP and its contractors, including Halliburton, by plaintiff attorneys. They said decisions made by BP led to an improper cement job that let natural gas enter the casing and flow to the deck of the Deepwater Horizon, where it ignited and exploded, killing 11 and injuring dozens more.

However, according to the bill of information, the deleted tests found little difference between using six or 21 centralizers.

In a news release, Justice officials said Halliburton has signed a cooperation and guilty plea agreement, in which the company agrees to plead guilty and admit its criminal conduct. A date for the court proceeding where the guilty plea would be heard was not announced.

Halliburton also agreed to pay the maximum statutory fine of $200,000, to be subject to three years of probation and to continue its cooperation in the government’s ongoing criminal investigation.

The company has also agreed to make a voluntary contribution of $55 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. That is not conditioned on acceptance of the plea agreement by the court.

In a statement released late Thursday, Halliburton said the Justice department “has agreed that it will not pursue further criminal prosecution of the company or its subsidiaries for any conduct relating to or arising out of the Macondo well incident.”

“The Department of Justice acknowledged the company’s significant and valuable cooperation during the course of its investigation, and the company has agreed to cooperate with the Department of Justice in any ongoing investigation related to or arising from the incident,” the statement said.

The company’s stock closed at $44.34 on Thursday, down 1.07 percent.

According to the bill of information, Halliburton and others conducted an internal investigation into whether the number of centralizers played any role in the blowout. “Use of centralizers can help keep the casing centered in the wellbore away from the surrounding walls as it is lowered and placed in the well,” the government document said. “Centralization can be significant to the quality of subsequent cementing around the bottom of the casing.”

On May 14, 2010, Halliburton’s cementing technology director told a senior program manager for the company’s cement product line to run two computer simulations of the cementing job for the Macondo well. The simulations used “Displace 3D,” a new program that was being developed to model the way fluids move through the wellbore and the annulus, the space between the casing and drilling pipes.

Those simulations found little difference between using six or 21 centralizers, according to the bill of information. The results were shown to one or possibly two Halliburton senior managers, and the company’s cementing techology director directed that the results be deleted. The bill of information does not name any of the employees.

However, the cementing technology director had earlier been told by another Halliburton executive that material related to the Macondo well was to be preserved. “Program manager felt uncomfortable deleting the simulations, but nonetheless followed the direction of defendant Halliburton’s cementing technology director to delete the simulations … .” He later told another employee about the deletion, saying “I did what I was told.”

Later in May and continuing into June 2010, Halliburton asked the cementing technology director to ask that other worker, identified as “Employee 1,” to re-run the simulations. Those simulations also showed little difference between using six or 21 centralizers, the government’s court filing said.

Employee 1 also was ordered to “get rid of” the simulations, the bill of information said. “Because Employee 1 felt uncomfortable destroying the simulations, Employee 1 delayed destroying the simulations for some time but, ultimately, like program manager before him, deleted them from his Halliburton computer,” the filing said.

During the civil litigation and a continbuing federal criminal investigation by the Justice Department’s Deepwater Horizon Task Force, efforts were made to recover the simulations. They were unsuccessful.

“In agreeing to plead guilty, Halliburton has accepted criminal responsibility for destroying the aforementioned evidence,” the Justice news release said. It also pointed out that a bill of information “is merely a charge and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The case is being prosecuted by Deepwater Horizon Task Force Director John Buretta, deputy directors Derek Cohen and Avi Gesser and task force prosecutors Richard Pickens II, Scott Cullen, Colin Black and Rohan Virginkar.


#7445

They made more than that before I finished reading the title.


#7446

USDOJ: Halliburton Agrees to Plead Guilty to Destruction of Evidence in Connection with Deepwater Horizon Tragedy
DOJ Press Release

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. Thursday, July 25, 2013
Halliburton Agrees to Plead Guilty to Destruction of Evidence in Connection with Deepwater Horizon Tragedy
Third Corporate Guilty Plea Obtained by the Deepwater Horizon Task Force


#7447

Halliburton - Bill of Information (7-25-13).pdf. (exact copy) for destruction of evidence plea.

Read the last paragraph of page 3. The program was a next gen program, that was in the process of being developed, not a proven program. So is DOJ saying Information from an experimental program should be used as evidence in a court case?


#7448

How Finite Element Analysis Aided Deepwater Horizon BOP Failure Forensics

http://www.marinelink.com/news/deepwater


#7449

DOJ Drops Key Prosecutors From Deepwater Obstruction Case - Law360

By Stewart Bishop

Law360, New York (August 22, 2013, 2:29 PM ET) – The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday withdrew three key prosecutors from its upcoming obstruction trial of a former BP PLC engineer who is accused of destroying text message and voicemail evidence about the company’s response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

U.S. District Judge Stanwood R. Duval approved the exit of the attorneys ahead of a trial planned for Dec. 2. Two of the prosecutors, Derek A. Cohen and Avi Gesser, are deputy directors of the DOJ’s Deepwater Horizon task force.


#7450

3 prosecutors ask out of ex-BP engineer’s case - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, Florida-

http://www.wflx.com/story/23225779/3-prosecutors-ask-out-of-ex-bp-engineers-case

3 prosecutors ask out of ex-BP engineer’s case

Posted: Aug 22, 2013 3:08 AM CDT
Updated: Aug 22, 2013 3:08 AM CDT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Three Justice Department prosecutors have asked to withdraw from the case against a former BP engineer charged with deleting text messages about the company’s response to its 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

A Justice Department spokesman said Wednesday’s request to withdraw Derek Cohen, Avi Gesser and Scott Cullen from the prosecution of Kurt Mix was a “staffing adjustment” that shouldn’t affect trial preparations.

Mix’s trial is scheduled to start on Dec. 2. The Katy, Texas, resident pleaded not guilty last year to two counts of obstruction of justice.

Prosecutors claim Mix deliberately deleted text messages to and from a supervisor and a BP contractor to prevent them from being used in a grand jury’s probe of the spill.


#7451

Judge asked to dismiss ex-BP engineer’s indictment in oil spill | Oil Spill | The Sun Herald

http://www.sunherald.com/2013/08/27/4906201/judge-asked-to-dismiss-ex-bp-engineers.html

By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN — Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS – A former BP engineer claims newly disclosed transcripts show “serious, recurring defects” in the grand jury proceedings that led to his indictment on charges he deleted text messages and voicemails about the company’s response to its 2010 oil spill.

Kurt Mix’s attorneys asked a federal judge on Monday to dismiss his indictment on two counts of obstruction of justice before a trial scheduled to start in December.

Mix’s lawyers said prosecutors never provided the grand jury with any evidence about the content of the text messages and voicemails that Mix is charged with deleting. They also claim prosecutors made errors in instructing the grand jury.

U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. didn’t immediately rule on Mix’s latest request to dismiss the charges against him. Duval previously refused to dismiss one of the two counts against him.

Mix, a resident of Katy, Texas, originally was indicted in May 2012 after an “evidentiary presentation” that lasted less than 10 minutes and included testimony by only a single witness, an FBI agent, “from whom the prosecutor elicited hearsay testimony through a litany of leading questions,” according to Mix’s attorneys.

“In fact, the prosecutor apparently did not even introduce copies of the allegedly deleted text messages into the evidentiary record,” they wrote. “Thus, the grand jury was not asked to consider – nor, on the evidentiary record before it, able to consider – the content of the allegedly deleted text messages.”

Mix’s lawyers also claim prosecutors’ errors in instructing the grand jury were “numerous, spanned multiple proceedings, and went to the core elements that distinguish felony obstruction of justice from the mere violation of a ‘legal hold notice.’”

Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr declined to comment on Tuesday but said prosecutors will respond to Mix’s arguments “at the appropriate time in court.”

Mix’s most recent of three indictments, handed up in June, didn’t add any counts and made few substantive changes to the previous versions. However, it contained a new allegation that he admitted to BP attorneys that he had deleted some texts and voicemails from his iPhone, including texts related to the Macondo well.

Mix’s previous indictment claimed he received roughly 350 voicemails, including about 40 from a supervisor and approximately 15 from a contractor, and deleted all of them. The new indictment merely accuses him of deleting one voicemail from the supervisor, one voicemail from the contractor and one from a call that went through BP’s general switchboard.


#7452

Ex-BP engineers facing manslaughter trial in Deepwater Horizon explosion seek delay | NOLA.com
By Juliet Linderman, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
on August 28, 2013 at 4:35 PM, updated August 28, 2013 at 4:42 PM

A pair of former BP engineers charged with manslaughter in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 offshore workers asked a federal judge for a nine-month trial delay.

Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, the former rig engineers who have pleaded not guilty to charges that they disregarded safety measures and ignored unusually high pressure readings that should have been a clear indicator of trouble prior to the Macondo well explosion, are slated to go to trial in early January 2014.

Defense attorneys on Wednesday filed a motion seeking the delay to allow them more time to review more than 63 million pages of records in the case.

“The discovery in this case is extraordinary --€” and ongoing,” the motion reads. Only a single section of these materials, the attorneys say, "€œwould fill over 6,000 boxes"€ and stretch more than one-and-a-half miles if lined up in a row.

As of Wednesday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Standwood Duval had not ruled on the request for a delay.


#7453

BP trial’s second phase to last 16 days - Energy Ticker - MarketWatch

August 23, 2013, 11:22 AM
By Claudia Assis

The second phase of BP PLC’s BP trial over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill is expected to last 16 days and be split into two parts, according to an order issued by the presiding judge.

The second phase starts Sept. 30 and will last four trial days, according to the order, published Thursday. On those days, the trial will focus on “source control” — the efforts to control, collect, and halt the oil gushing from the Macondo well for nearly three months.

The second part of the trial, starting Oct. 7 and continuing for 12 trial days, will focus on “quantification” — just how much oil was actually released into the Gulf, information to be used to levy federal Clean Water Act fines. Some five million barrels are estimated to have fouled Gulf waters.

The order, signed by U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier, also spelled out the times allotted for each side (with a chess clock keeping track), how many experts they are allowed to call to testify, the use of videos and other considerations.

Barbier had delayed the start of the second phase by two weeks to give parties more time to prepare. The court meets Mondays through Thursdays.

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From the article
" Some five million barrels are estimated to have fouled Gulf waters."

As I recall the government was using 4.9 million barrels total but did not factor in the minus 800,000 captured at the surface or 4.1 million barrels.
Seems as though 4.1 mil is the current # the DOJ is using.


#7454

BP, federal government offer dueling estimates of how much oil spilled into Gulf of Mexico | Star Tribune

Article by: MICHAEL KUNZELMAN , Associated Press Updated: September 5, 2013 - 9:06 PM

http://www.startribune.com/nation/222613971.html

NEW ORLEANS — Less than a month before a high-stakes trial resumes, BP and the federal government have offered conflicting estimates of how much oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico after the blowout of the company’s Macondo well triggered a deadly explosion.

In a court filing Thursday, BP urges U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to use an estimate of 2.45 million barrels, or nearly 103 million gallons, in determining how much oil spilled into the Gulf in 2010 and calculating any Clean Water Act fines.

Justice Department experts estimate that around 4.2 million barrels, or approximately 176 million gallons, spilled into the water.

The second phase of a trial designed to determine how much more money London-based BP PLC and its contractors owe for the 2010 disaster is scheduled to start on Sept. 30


#7455

BP Claims Administrator Juneau Cleared in Probe by Freeh - Businessweek

http://mobile.businessweek.com/news/2013-09-06/bp-spill-claims-administrator-juneau-cleared-in-ethics-probe

(Check the 4 paragraphs below that are marked with >>>>>>>>paragraph text <<<<<<<<)

The administrator of BP Plc (BP/)’s $9.6 billion partial settlement of claims from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill didn’t engage in any misconduct, an independent investigation found.
Louis Freeh, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said he had “not found evidence” that Patrick Juneau, the claims administrator, “engaged in any conflict of interest, or unethical or improper conduct.”
Freeh said that while he found “problematic” conduct by certain claims-administration employees, it shouldn’t stall processing payments to spill victims.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans appointed Freeh to investigate allegations of misconduct after a lawyer at the Deepwater Horizon Court Supervised Settlement Program was suspended for allegedly taking payments from law firms while processing their clients’ spill-related claims. A second attorney was later suspended following similar accusations.

>>>>>>>>Two claims fund attorneys “may have violated federal criminal statutes regarding fraud, money laundering, conspiracy or perjury,” Freeh said in his 93-page report issued yesterday. This alleged misconduct “should not prevent” the claims program from “fairly and efficiently processing and paying honest and legitimate claims,” he said.<<<<<<<<

BP faces thousands of lawsuits over damages caused by the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig in 2010. The blast killed 11 workers and released more than 4 million barrels of crude from BP’s well off the Louisiana coast.
$9.6 Billion Accord
BP reached the agreement with most private-party plaintiffs last year, initially estimating the cost of the settlement at $7.8 billion. The company has since raised the estimate to $9.6 billion.

>>>>>>>>“Judge Freeh’s initial investigation report confirms what BP has suspected for some time: there has been fraud and unethical conduct within the facility itself and among various claimants and their lawyers –- and immediate steps need to be taken to prevent it in the future,” Geoff Morrell, a spokesman for the London-based company, said yesterday in an e-mailed statement.<<<<<<<<

>>>>>>>>“Judge Freeh has confirmed that ‘many’ of the court-supervised settlement program’s ‘key executives and senior attorneys’ engaged in ‘pervasive’ improper and unethical conduct, some of which may have been criminal,” Morrell said.<<<<<<<<

>>>>>>>>Morrell also cited the finding that the claims center’s key fraud-detection vendor was “ineffective and had conflicts of interest.”
Juneau Validated<<<<<<<<

Juneau said in an e-mailed statement that he “found the Freeh report to validate the work that our team of 2,700 hard working professionals has been doing” since the claims center was created.
Calling the actions of the two former employees “an isolated situation” that has already been addressed, Juneau said Freeh found “no evidence that the two employees directly manipulated the valuation of claims” or that the overall payment of claims was affected by the misconduct.
In a ruling summarizing Freeh’s findings, Barbier ordered the attorneys and law firms singled out for improper conduct to show why they shouldn’t be disqualified from participation in the claims program within two weeks.
Barbier asked Freeh to evaluate the claims administration’s “internal compliance program and anti-corruption controls” and recommend improvements that will “ensure the integrity” of the process.
The judge also asked Freeh to refer his findings to government authorities and initiate legal action to “claw back” fraudulent payments, so long as that effort doesn’t delay or impede payment of legitimate claims.
Integrity, Transparency
“We are pleased -– but not surprised -– that Judge Freeh’s report confirmed what we knew to be true all along: that Patrick Juneau has, for more than a year, led the court-supervised settlement program with integrity, transparency and objectivity,” Steve Herman and Jim Roy, co-lead attorneys for the committee leading the spill litigation, said in an e-mailed statement.
BP has repeatedly urged Barbier to suspend payments by the claims administration while it investigates allegations of widespread fraud and misconduct by employees and certain types of businesses claiming economic losses from the spill. The company established a fraud hot line and encouraged Gulf Coast residents to report suspected ethical violations in the claims program.
Inflated Cost
Barbier refused to halt payments during Freeh’s probe or while BP appeals a policy decision it claims is wrongly inflating the cost of the settlement. BP claims Juneau is misinterpreting the deal in a way that is causing millions of dollars to be paid to businesses that suffered no spill-related losses.
Lawyers for spill victims contend BP is experiencing “buyer’s remorse” and trying to renegotiate a deal that is proving more costly than it anticipated.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard arguments in BP’s appeal of Juneau’s policy interpretation in July and hasn’t ruled on it.
In a separate appeal, in which spill victims are challenging the settlement as unfair, BP said in court filings that Barbier’s approval of the settlement and certification of the group of victims allowed to participate in the deal “cannot stand” unless the Juneau dispute is resolved in the company’s favor.


#7456

Judge urged to accept Halliburton’s guilty plea | The Advertiser | theadvertiser.com

http://www.theadvertiser.com/viewart/20130913/NEWS01/309130007/Judge-urged-accept-Halliburton-s-guilty-plea

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Halliburton Energy Services and Justice Department prosecutors have urged a federal judge to approve a plea deal that calls for the Houston-based company to pay a $200,000 fine for destroying evidence after BP’s 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In a court filing Thursday, Halliburton and prosecutors said the company’s agreement to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge imposes “fair, just, and appropriate corporate punishment” and reflects its “full, truthful and ongoing cooperation” with the government’s spill probe.

U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo will decide whether to accept the deal at a hearing in New Orleans scheduled for Sept. 19.

Halliburton was the cement contractor on the drilling rig that exploded, killing 11 workers, following the April 2010 blowout of BP’s Macondo well.

The fine that Halliburton agreed to pay is the statutory maximum for the charge it faces, destruction of evidence. The company also has agreed to be on probation for three years and make a $55 million contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, but that payment wasn’t a condition of the plea deal.

Halliburton won’t face any other criminal charges in connection with the case, though individual employees could still be charged.

The destruction of evidence involved a post-spill review of the cement job on BP’s well. Prosecutors said Halliburton’s cement technology director in May 2010 directed a senior program manager to run computer simulations on centralizers, which are used to keep the casing centered in the wellbore.

The results indicated there was little difference between using six or 21 centralizers. The data could have supported BP’s decision to use the lower number.

The cementing technology director allegedly instructed the program manager to delete the results. The program manager “felt uncomfortable” about the instruction but complied, according to prosecutors.

“I did what I was told,” the program manager later told another employee, Thursday’s court filing says.

A different Halliburton employee also deleted data from a separate round of simulations at the direction of the cement technology director, who was acting without the authorization of the company, according to prosecutors.

Halliburton notified investigators from a Justice Department task force as soon as it discovered the deletion of data.

“Overall, it is the Task Force’s view that (Halliburton’s) cooperation was exceptional,” the filing says.


#7457

Judge delays BP rig supervisors’ trial until June 2, 2014 | www.wftv.com
September 13, 2013

A federal judge has agreed to postpone the manslaughter trial of two BP supervisors who worked on the drilling rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
The trial of Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine was scheduled to start on Jan. 13, but U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. agreed to delay it until June 2 during a closed-door meeting with attorneys earlier this week.
Defense attorneys had asked for a nine-month delay, saying they need more time to review millions of pages of documents provided by the government.
Kaluza and Vidrine pleaded not guilty last year to charges they botched a key safety test before the blowout of BP’s Macondo well. Eleven workers died in the subsequent explosion.


#7458

Judge accepts Halliburton guilty plea in oil rig explosion - WAFB 9 News

http://www.wafb.com/story/23472480/judge-accepts-halliburton-guilty-plea-in-oil-rig-explosion

MICHAEL KUNZELMAN
Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS, LA (AP) - A federal judge has accepted a plea agreement that calls for Halliburton Energy Services to pay a $200,000 fine for destroying evidence after BP’s 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Halliburton pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor charge stemming from the deletion of data during a post-spill review of the cement job on BP’s blown-out Macondo well.

The Houston-based company could have withdrawn its guilty plea if U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo had rejected its deal with the Justice Department.

Halliburton also agreed to make a $55 million contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, but that payment was not a condition of the deal.

The company was BP’s cement contractor on the drilling rig that exploded in the Gulf in April 2010, killing 11 workers.


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Ex-Halliburton manager charged in Gulf spill probe - The Independent Media Group

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A former Halliburton manager was charged Thursday with destroying evidence following BP’s 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a case that coincides with a guilty plea to a related charge by the Houston-based oilfield services company.

Anthony Badalamenti, who had been the cementing technology director for Halliburton Energy Services Inc., was charged in federal court with instructing two other employees to delete data during a post-spill review of the cement job on BP’s blown-out well.

Halliburton was BP PLC’s cement contractor on the drilling rig that exploded in the Gulf in April 2010, killing 11 workers and triggering the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Badalamenti, 61, of Katy, Texas, is charged in a bill of information, which typically signals that a defendant is cooperating with prosecutors. His attorney, Tai H. Park, declined to comment. Badalamenti is scheduled to be arraigned on Sept. 30.

Also on Thursday, a federal judge accepted a plea agreement that calls for Halliburton to pay a $200,000 fine for a misdemeanor stemming from Badalamenti’s alleged conduct.

U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo said she believes the plea agreement is reasonable and agreed with prosecutors and the company that it “adequately reflects the seriousness of the offense.”

Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement that Halliburton’s guilty plea and the charge against Badalamenti “mark the latest steps forward in the Justice Department’s efforts to achieve justice on behalf of all those affected by the Deepwater Horizon explosion, oil spill, and environmental disaster.”

The plea deal has its critics, however. Allison Fisher, an outreach director for the Public Citizen nonprofit advocacy group, called it a “travesty.”

“Rather than rubber stamp the plea agreement,” she said in a statement, “the court should have rejected the bargain-basement deal because it fails to hold the corporation accountable for its criminal acts and will not deter future corporate crime.”

Unlike BP and rig owner Transocean Ltd., Halliburton was not charged with a crime related to the causes of the disaster. The fine Halliburton agreed to pay is the statutory maximum for the misdemeanor charge of unauthorized destruction of evidence.

The deal announced in July also calls for Halliburton to be on probation for three years and to make a $55 million contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, but that payment was not a condition of the deal.

The company said in a statement that closing the case was a good move for the company and that prosecutors have described its cooperation in the case as “exceptional,” as well as “forthright, extensive and ongoing since the outset of the investigation.”

Marc Mukasey, a lawyer who represented Halliburton at Thursday’s hearing, said the company wouldn’t comment on the charge against Badalamenti.

Although Halliburton’s plea deal resolves the criminal case, the company still faces hefty civil penalties for its role in the disaster.

A federal judge is presiding over a trial designed to identify the causes of BP’s well blowout and assign percentages of fault to BP and its contractors. The second phase of the trial — focusing on BP’s efforts to plug the well and determining how much oil spilled into the Gulf — is scheduled to start on Sept. 30.

BP resolved a Justice Department criminal probe of its role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster when it pleaded guilty in January to manslaughter charges for the deaths of the rig workers and agreed to pay a record $4 billion in penalties. Transocean pleaded guilty in February to a misdemeanor charge of violating the Clean Water Act and agreed to pay $400 million in criminal penalties.

Prosecutors said that in May 2010, Badalamenti directed a senior program manager to run computer simulations on centralizers, which are used to keep the casing centered in the wellbore. The results indicated there was little difference between using six or 21 centralizers. The data could have supported BP’s decision to use the lower number.

Badalamenti is accused of instructing the program manager to delete the results. The program manager “felt uncomfortable” about the instruction but complied, according to prosecutors.

A different Halliburton employee also deleted data from a separate round of simulations at the direction of Badalamenti, who was acting without the authorization of the company, prosecutors said.

Halliburton notified investigators from a Justice Department task force about the deletion of data. Efforts to recover the data weren’t successful.

Badalamenti isn’t the first individual charged with a crime stemming from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

BP well site leaders Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine await a trial next year on manslaughter charges stemming from the rig workers’ deaths. Prosecutors claim they botched a key safety test and disregarded abnormally high pressure readings that were glaring signs of trouble before the well blowout.

Former BP executive David Rainey is charged with concealing information from Congress about the amount of oil that was spewing from the blown-out well in 2010. Former BP engineer Kurt Mix is charged with deleting text messages and voicemails about the company’s response to the spill.


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Scientific basis for safely shutting in the Macondo Well after the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/11/28/1115847109.full.pdf

As part of the government response to the Deepwater Horizon blowout, a Well Integrity Team evaluated the geologic hazards of shutting in the Macondo Well at the seafloor and determined the conditions under which it could safely be undertaken. Of particular concern was the possibility that, under the anticipated high shut-in pressures, oil could leak out of the well casing below the seafloor. Such a leak could lead to new geologic pathways for hydrocarbon release to the Gulf of Mexico. Evaluating this hazard required anal- yses of 2D and 3D seismic surveys, seafloor bathymetry, sediment properties, geophysical well logs, and drilling data to assess the geological, hydrological, and geomechanical conditions around the Macondo Well. After the well was successfully capped and shut in on July 15, 2010, a variety of monitoring activities were used to assess subsurface well integrity. These activities included acquisi- tion of wellhead pressure data, marine multichannel seismic pro- files, seafloor and water-column sonar surveys, and wellhead visual/acoustic monitoring. These data showed that the Macondo Well was not leaking after shut in, and therefore, it could remain safely shut until reservoir pressures were suppressed (killed) with heavy drilling mud and the well was sealed with cement.

((Article continues. 6 pages of interesting info recapping decision process)