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Halliburton Stays In Spill Trial’s Glare As Two Other Corporations Escape Blame

In the fourth week of the 2010 Gulf spill trial, U.S. District Decide Carl Barbier dropped claims Wednesday in opposition to contractors M-I LLC and Cameron International whereas Halliburton got here beneath increased scrutiny for concealing cement at its Broussard, La. lab.

In the new Orleans-based mostly trial and not using a jury, Barbier dismissed all claims in opposition to M-I LLC, BP’s drilling fluids contractor and a subsidiary of Houston-based Schlumberger. The choose saw no evidence that M-I made selections that led to the Macondo well blowout. In a civil trial that started on Feb. 25, he is assessing blame within the April 2010 explosion off coastal Louisiana that took eleven lives.

Barbier also dominated out punitive damages in opposition to Cameron, the manufacturer of the rig’s blowout preventer, saying he’d heard nothing within the trial to point gross negligence or willful misconduct by that Houston-primarily based firm. Two M-I employees died in the Macondo blast however no Cameron workers were on the rig that day.

Barbier stated Wednesday it was too soon to rule on requests by BP, Transocean and Halliburton that gross negligence and different claims in opposition to them be dismissed in the trial. BP was the Macondo leaseholder and effectively operator while Transocean owned the Deepwater Horizon rig.

For the second week in a row, questions swirled about cement contractor Halliburton–with dual headquarters in Houston and Dubai–holding back proof. In a court docket filing late Thursday, BP attorneys asked natural gas prices kansas city Barbier to sanction Halliburton for concealing some cement from the Kodiak properly that appears to have been used at the Macondo site too. Sanctions may have an effect on how Halliburton defends itself in court docket and might reduce BP’s and Transocean’s liabilities.

On March 13, Halliburton lawyer Donald Godwin mentioned the company found Kodiak cement samples that day at its Broussard lab. In Thursday’s filing, BP attorneys wrote “this rig sample was responsive to subpoenas, and Halliburton ought to have produced it years in the past so that it could have been tested on a well timed basis to be used at trial and before it deteriorated additional.”

In late 2011, BP claimed Halliburton had destroyed test outcomes on lab cement samples. However Halliburton argued again then that the assessments weren’t achieved on cement used at the Deepwater Horizon rig.

Last Tuesday, Timothy Quirk, Halliburton’s Broussard lab manager from 2008 to mid-2012, testified he had remoted Macondo cement lab samples natural gas prices kansas city on April 30, 2010 as instructed. But he later removed Kodiak nicely samples from that group and positioned them natural gas prices kansas city on a warehouse shelf.

Quirk stated “I gathered all of the Transocean rig samples” following the disaster at the request of Tony Angelle, a Halliburton supervisor. “And after i gave him a list of the whole lot I’d inventoried, he said we just must safe the Macondo well samples.” Quirk listed the Macondo samples and safeguarded them in a locker on the lab. “All the pieces else I put again into the storage area in our warehouse” in Broussard, he stated. Quirk stated he did not know the Kodiak samples were associated to the Macondo properly.

BP and its contractors drilled the Kodiak in 2008, and leftover supplies from it had been later used at the Macondo site. Kodiak cement held at Broussard was the identical mix as the fabric used on the Deepwater Horizon on April 17.

BP attorneys contend that at the least among the Kodiak materials in Broussard weren’t just off-the-shelf or Kodiak-specific lab samples. They wrote late Thursday that “Halliburton admitted the ‘Kodiak nicely cement’ had the truth is been introduced onshore from the Deepwater Horizon when the rig was at the Macondo properly.”

Moreover, Quirk testified Tuesday that in May 2010 he threw away handwritten notes on cement stability assessments related to the Macondo nicely, after reporting them by phone to Halliburton colleague Ronnie Faul. And Quirk discarded pieces of cement he had examined. The assessments were completed on lab inventory, he said.

Testimony continued last week on different factors that led to the Macondo well explosion. Petroleum engineer Calvin Barnhill, a Transocean professional witness, stated Monday “there are three primary, $64 billion questions in this case. Primary, why was the unfavorable strain take a look at deemed successful ” That take a look at, finished on April 20, 2010 to determine whether cementing had sealed any leaks within the effectively, was interpreted to show the process was successful. But the take a look at was inconclusive, Barnhill mentioned.

“Number two, why wasn’t the the operation stopped at round 9:00 p.m. and the test repeated ,” he requested. “And why wasn’t the effectively shut in at 9:32 or 9:33 p.m. when there was an anomaly “

With no successful strain check, “there was a major query here as to whether or not the operation ought to go ahead,” Barnhill mentioned. When requested who on the rig determined if the stress test had passed, he stated “the last word authority would have rested with BP. They might have made the decision whether or not to just accept or reject the test and move ahead.”

On Tuesday morning, Steve Newman, Transocean president and chief government officer, told the court “our people failed to follow by way of on the strain anomaly that existed on the drill pipe. They accepted BP’s evaluation that the stress take a look at had been profitable and they accepted BP’s instruction to continue on with the displacement of the effectively.”

When questioned about whether Transocean’s higher-ups had contributed to the blowout, Newman said “no, we have not identified any failures within the accountability of management.”

Transocean engaged Lloyd’s Register Group, a maritime and threat-administration organization, to review five of its drilling rigs, together with the Deepwater Horizon, in September 2009 following 4 deaths on 4 of its rigs over 92 days. In a subsequent July 2010 report, Lloyd’s pointed to “a fundamental lack of hazard awareness” within Transocean’s North America division.

In testimony Monday, marine safety knowledgeable Geoff Webster, the plaintiffs’ knowledgeable witness on the Deepwater Horizon’s seaworthiness, mentioned rig audits revealed that delayed maintenance had been a rising drawback. The audits “clearly show that there weren’t sufficient people on board, there was not enough tools for spares and that the rig was going downhill,” he mentioned.

Upkeep was behind on every little thing from pumps and alarms to lifeboats, Webster stated. The rig’s blowout preventer hadn’t been recertified after 9 years although certification was required every five years by the federal Mineral Administration Service and by Cameron, the BOP’s producer.

When asked how he’d characterize the vessel’s upkeep historical past, Webster termed it “reckless neglect.” He said “this rig should have gone to a shipyard, at which time all these things might have been taken care of. The vessel had been working for nine years without any main overhaul or any dry dock period.”

Webster was asked a few remark from a Transocean worker, included in Lloyd’s analysis of the company’s North American rigs. The worker had said “run it, break it, repair it. That is how they work.”

These remarks indicated Transocean was more fascinated about production than safety, Webster mentioned. “When the rig is idle, it’s not earning profits,” he defined. “When the rig is in dry dock, it isn’t creating wealth. So they try to maintain it out there so long as they can. They were running it, issues were breaking they usually were fixing it the very best they could.”

In one other development, federal prosecutors in New Orleans filed an indictment Wednesday in opposition to former BP engineer and Texas resident Kurt Combine, alleging that he deleted over fifty cellphone voice mails about his company’s response to the 2010 spill. Final spring, he was charged with deleting text messages related to the spill.