Friday, October 29, 2010

What Did Halliburton Know?

Things are not looking good for Halliburton, and their stock dropped significantly on Thursday 10/28/10.

This from Bloomberg:
Halliburton Co. may face increased liability in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill after the staff of a U.S. presidential panel said the contractor knew cement it mixed for BP well was unstable.

The staff of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill said documents provided by Halliburton showed at least three tests of the mixture, in February and April, found the recipe wasn’t stable. BP received data in March from at least one of the tests, the commission staff said in a letter yesterday.

Halliburton, the world’s second-largest provider of oilfield services, has received less scrutiny from lawmakers and investigators than BP and Transocean Ltd., owner of the rig that blew up on April 20, killing 11 workers and setting off the biggest U.S. oil spill. The report increases Halliburton’s legal risks, said J. David Anderson, an oil-industry analyst with J.P. Morgan Securities LLC in New York.....

“Halliburton and BP both had results in March showing that a very similar foam slurry design to the one actually pumped at the Macondo well would be unstable, but neither acted upon that data,” according to the letter sent to the commissioners from the panel’s chief counsel Fred Bartlit and other staff members.

Separate tests on the cement slurry by Chevron Corp., using material supplied by Houston-based Halliburton, couldn’t generate a stable mixture in a laboratory, according to the staff’s letter. Chevron had agreed to conduct the tests for the commission.

The evidence that Halliburton knew its cement showed instability before the blowout indicates multiple companies will be liable for damages, said Mike Stag, a New Orleans environmental lawyer suing BP, Halliburton and Transocean....

The evidence may also mean criminal fines for Halliburton if the U.S. Justice Department reaches the same conclusions, said David Uhlmann, former head of the department’s environmental crimes division....

“The fact that BP and Halliburton knew this cement job could fail only solidifies their liability and responsibility for this disaster,” Representative Edward Markey, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy and Environment Subcommittee, said in a statement yesterday.

Halliburton has stated publicly that tests conducted on the Macondo well cement before pumping it on April 19 and April 20 indicated it would be stable, according to the letter.

Halliburton probably fulfilled its contractual duty by alerting BP that one of the tests failed, even if it withheld or neglected to mention the two other failures, said Jeffrey Spittel, an oil-industry analyst at Madison Williams and Co. in Houston. The finding may show BP acted carelessly by ignoring the bad test result the company did receive, Spittel said.

“It’s damning evidence regarding BP’s conduct,” Spittel said yesterday in a telephone interview. “It’s ultimately up to the operator to make the final go or no-go decision on the cement job.”...

Gagliano told a joint U.S. Coast Guard-Interior Department board that he urged BP engineers to assemble the well with 21 centralizers, devices that ensure the steel pipe lining the well can be properly secured to the rock with cement.

BP decided to use six centralizers instead, according to internal BP e-mails entered into evidence by the investigative panel. On April 20, as rig workers and BP managers put the finishing touches on the $154.5 million well, a burst of gas shot up the pipe linking the rig to the well, triggering explosions and the spill.

BP’s internal investigation of the disaster reached conclusions almost identical to yesterday’s report concerning the instability of Halliburton’s cement. In a Sept. 8 report on the probe, BP said tests conducted by CSI Technologies on a similar recipe found the cement “was likely unstable....”

The BP report criticized the company’s own engineers and managers for failing to properly test the cement after it was poured to ensure the well had been sealed off from surrounding oil-soaked rock.

Engineers from Halliburton and BP have testified to federal investigators that they agreed to use lightweight cement for Macondo because the rock formation was brittle and too weak to withstand a more robust mixture.

I think this report just scratches the surface about this whole thing.

Fact: Haliburton's cement required 48 hours to cure.
Fact: BP chose to do a negative pressure test in less than 24 hours.
Fact: The cement failed to hold up when they removed the 1000 ft of mud and that is when the gas pressure finally kicked through the bottom valve - which also failed.

BP was known to have committed numerous safety violations leading up to the explosion. Rig workers complained about it with no one taking action.

Now remember, weeks before the spill, Goldman Sachs unloaded about 44% of their BP stock, and BP CEO, Tony Hayward, also sold 1/3 of his BP holdings.

Why did Halliburton buy an oil clean-up operation shortly before the blow out?

It's all a bit strange don't you think?

But Why?

What would BP and Halliburton have to gain from an ecological disaster like this? Maybe BP is now befitting from the 2 extra relief wells that the emergency allowed them to tap into this huge reservoir of oil? Maybe they made a ton of money in clean-up operations that were in part funded by UK and US government (taxpayer money)? What benefit would this disaster have for BP and Halliburton if it is used to push through Cap and Trade legislation? Theories abound and yet we have no real answers.

Now with this finding on Halliburton it is hard to imagine how both parties could not be responsible for the destruction of ecosystems - the poisoning of humans and animals - and the economic ruin of the Gulf Coast.

What's worse is the Obama Administration's handling of this and the media black-outs and possible cover-ups of the real damage done to the Gulf. Americans deserve an answer, moreover the people who were responsible for this should be held accountable/punished.

Forget the stock value - who will pay for these obvious lapses in judgment and who will be responsible and accountable for the widespread destruction of the Gulf Coast and it's people?

Previous Posts on the BP spill.