BP says Halliburton destroyed critical cement test results

BP on Monday accused Halliburton of destroying potentially damaging internal test results that showed that the cement it used to secure the Macondo well that blew out in the Gulf of Mexico last year was unstable.

BP made the allegations today in a 310-page legal filing before a New Orleans-based federal district court that is overseeing a broad class action lawsuit tied to the 2010 oil spill.

BP accused Halliburton of “steadfastly” refusing to turn over its internal results from testing on the cement mix and subsequently destroying the data from those examinations. BP also insisted that Halliburton failed to turn over computer modeling that might demonstrate that channels did not form in cement at the well.

“Halliburton intentionally destroyed the evidence related to its non-privileged cement testing, in part because it wanted to eliminate any risk that this evidence would be used against it at trial,” BP said in its filing.

Halliburton spokeswoman Beverly Stafford said in a statement that the company is reviewing details of BP’s filing, but that “we believe that the conclusion that BP is asking the court to draw is without merit and we look forward to contesting their motion in court.”

It is the latest gambit in the legal fight over who bears liability for the Deepwater Horizon disaster — a battle that also has involved fast-flying accusations of fraud and defamation, as the firms that worked on the site seek to distance themselves from the accident that killed 11 workers and unleashed the nation’s worst oil spill.

The viability of the cement used to isolate oil and gas at BP’s Macondo well has emerged as a major issue in investigations into the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Halliburton has argued that the cement mix it prepared and applied at the site was stable, which would allow it to adequately coat the outer edges of the Macondo well and keep oil and gas at bay.

But Halliburton also insists that some of BP’s choices — including the oil company’s decision to use fewer so-called “centralizers” to properly position pipe in the well — caused channels to form in the cement, allowing hydrocarbons to flow to the surface.

By contrast, BP argues that depositions from Halliburton witnesses _ as well as internal documents from the company _ demonstrate the cement slurry was not stable, and therefore may have broken down after being applied at the Macondo well, causing vulnerabilities.

BP is asking federal district judge Carl Barbier to allow forensic firms to scour Halliburton’s computer for the missing results from its internal modeling. BP also is asking the court to issue a finding that Halliburton’s cement was unstable _ a conclusion that could help the oil company in court.

This isn’t the first time BP and Halliburton have traded accusations in connection with the oil spill.

In September, Halliburton sued BP, arguing that the oil company hid key information about the Macondo well that may have prevented the disaster. Halliburton accused BP of fraud and defamation and said the London-based oil giant provided inaccurate information about the location of oil and gas producing zones in the well before Halliburton applied cement at the site.

The final cement job in the well was meant to push cement at least 500 feet above the deepest geological formation that contains hydrocarbons. Halliburton claimed BP failed to inform it of several formations in an effort to save money by preventing costly changes to the well design.

Without knowing the proper locations of the formations, Halliburton argued, it wasn’t able to design a cement mix appropriate for the conditions at the site.

BP’s filing Monday relies on depositions of several Halliburton witnesses, including one Oklahoma-based employee who said he ran tests on samples of the cement slurry used at the Macondo well but then “destroyed” the results to ensure they weren’t “misinterpreted.” Under the testing, the Halliburton worker said, the cement mix broke down and seemed thin.

The alleged testing was conducted in late April or early May 2010.

BP filing against HAL re cement testing38

20 Comments

  1. pinnywoodsrooter

    “BP says Halliburton destroyed critical cement test results”

    Pot calling kettle black,

    #1
  2. w00t

    I’ve worked Corporate America for a very long time and I can attest to the fact that almost everything is compromised in almost every aspect of what’s considered overhead to ensure Executive bonuses. Bonuses don’t appear to me to do anything more than to sabotage good business practices. Seriously, couldn’t you just offer a salary? If the company does badly…they still receive their “performance” bonuses, it’s just a management scam to repay a percentage of everything “saved” to the person who saves it. That’s not a bonus, that’s coercion.

    #2
  3. Trail Tramp

    I bet BP won’t be getting a Christmas card from Halliburton this year.

    #3
  4. Bob_R_Roberts

    Is there any chance this is a legal ploy to delay paying damages?

    #4
  5. Trail Tramp

    It’s a legal ploy to get Halliburton to pay for PART of the damages.

    #5
  6. lawaggie

    What a waste. 8 lawyers on a simple motion for something that is protected under FRE Rule 407. Halliburton aught to bring their own motion for wasting theirs and the Court’s time.

    #6
  7. olivia

    This is Dick Cheney. He is a liar.

    #7
  8. ntangle

    Neither a lawyer nor an Aggie, so I had to look it up. How does this relate to FRE 407 (Subsequent Remedial Measures)? Maybe you meant a different rule? BP claims that HAL destroyed evidence in violation of a court order to preserve and that such evidence could undermine HAL’s claim for what caused channeling, etc. Not just that HAL remedied the problem after the fact.

    #8
  9. Jackalope

    The government said the same thing.

    #9
  10. Dave

    I thought that Dick Cheney had retired…..

    #10
  11. Adler

    Halliburton would have delivered copies of the test data to BP as soon as the lab tests were completed. It’s SOP all 3 cementing companies.

    This is merely BP grasping at straws.

    #11
  12. William

    Trying to bring Cheney into this shows real ignorance.

    #12
  13. Thad Daly

    Trying to pass the blame. How does this change BP negligent decisions–using 6 casing centralizers rather than the 26 required, not running a Cement Bond Log test after cementing (especially when the crew to do it was on the rig), not doing a pressure test of the cement. IF the cewment formula was flawed the testing would have detected. The one test that BP did make the Negative Pressure Test of the Temporary Abandonment Plug failed and BP decided to ignore.

    #13
  14. ntangle

    HAL’s earlier claim that BP withheld data about a thin, potentially producing sand that was apparently within rather than below the required 500′ barrier…sounds to me like grasping at straws. Since evidence indicates that the blowout didn’t go UP the annulus anyway.

    OTOH, evidence about the foamed cement’s strength & stability or otherwise sounds about as relevant as it could be. Since it’s clear that the cement failed for some reason, perhaps a combination of reasons. But apparently that evidence is gone.

    #14
  15. Seth Neff

    Simple, let’s just take a look at the Schlumberger Cement Bond Log. That is the industry Gold Standard, conducted by a 3rd party to determine the adequacy of the cement job.

    Computer models and lab tests are always based on simplified ASSUMPTIONS of the real well conditions, which are not infrequently incorrect. The proof is in the pudding – the cement bond log.

    Ooopsie Daisy, BP chinched out on that standard procedure as well.

    No gottie.

    #15
  16. lawaggie

    @Ntangle:

    “When, after an injury or harm allegedly caused by an event,
    measures are taken that, if taken previously, would have made
    the injury or harm less likely to occur, evidence of the subsequent
    measures is not admissible to prove negligence, culpable conduct,
    a defect in a product, a defect in a product’s design, or a need for
    a warning or instruction.” FRE 407.

    Simply put, if HAL made tests on the type of slurry used to cement the long string of the Macondo well alleged to be a contributing cause of the catastrophic event “after the event”, those test results cannot be used as evidence of culpable conduct, or a defect in a product or its design.

    In other words, BP is chasing ghosts and grasping at straws.

    #16
  17. Mike H.

    It’s amazing I still hear of such follies in the energy industry. Olympic Pipeline fails in 1999 in Bellingham, dumps 240,000 gallons of gasoline into a creek, it kills 3 people, NTSB finds Olympic had been testing software on the *live* SCADA system, but the logs of activity on that SCADA computer went somehow missing, like they were erased. But, Olympic still had 1 employee go to jail for it, & another put on probation. Olympic also paid a fortune in Civil settlements to the next of kin, plus clean up costs.

    PG&E claims it had the records of the pipe that failed in San Bruno, killing 8 people. Oops, the records says it was seamless pipe, but the pipe had seams, some of them not welded very good. Check out the NTSB Report. That one’s going to the Courts soon, but it looks ugly for PG&E in light of that.

    Now, HAL can’t find records for a materials test for a rig that blew out, killing 11 people, & wrecking havoc in the Gulf? This will likely get ugly in Civil Court, as well. How many Juries will have sympathy for a company that doesn’t keep good records of critical materials?

    Skip giving bonuses to the Bosses, & hire some good record keepers.

    #17
  18. ntangle

    lawaggie: As I stated, I don’t see the applicability of FRE 407 at all. The issue is about discovering test results for the cement that was actually used at Macondo, ie. whether that specific batch’s met its stated requirements. It’s not about what changes HAL might have made in its cement formulations for subsequent applications and to use that as evidence that the Macondo batch was faulty. The main reason for the rule is so that manufacturers, etc. won’t forego improvements to their products for fear that it may demonstrate that their prior efforts were lacking. We’ll just have to wait for HAL’s arguments and how the Court rules.

    #18
  19. Thad Daly

    Cementing casing is of two parts. The chemical formulation of the cement and the actual mechanical placement of the cement. Consider the casing centralizers designed and used to keep the casing centered in the wellbore. Halliburton in writing recommended that 26 be used and there was a probablity of the cement job failing if less were used. BP decided to use only 6. At each place where the casing contacts the well bore there is NO cement. Even with an absolute perfect cement formulation faulty mechanical placement between the casing and wellbore failure was not only possible but probable. The well pressure would come up the hole on the annulus side between the casing and wellbore contact places. It also could communicate to the casing shoe and up the casing when the hydrostatic pressure was reduced as the heavy drilling fluid was displaced with lighter seawater. A cement bond log would have detected those places where casing and wellbore contacted and were devoid of cement.

    #19
  20. Thad Daly

    Trying to blame Halliburton cement formulation is to divert attention to BP faulty placement of the cement. BP approved cement formula prior to use, if there was question about it BP should have verified prior to use. AND the Cement Bond Log would be the best follow up check.

    #20