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Halliburton has admitted destroying evidence in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and will plead guilty to a criminal charge, the Justice Department announced Thursday.
Under the plea agreement, which requires court approval, Houston-based Halliburton will also face three years' probation, pay the maximum fine of $200,000 and continue to cooperate in the Justice Department's criminal investigation of the April 2010 explosion and fire on the drilling platform, which killed 11 rig workers off Louisiana.
The Justice Department said it would not pursue further criminal charges against Halliburton or its subsidiaries.
Separately, Halliburton made a $55 million "voluntary contribution" to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
In a statement Thursday night, Halliburton noted that the Justice Department "acknowledged the company's significant and valuable cooperation during the course of its investigation, and the company has agreed to continue to cooperate ... in any ongoing investigation related to or arising from the incident."
The spill was the largest in U.S. history: Nearly 5 million barrels of crude oil poured into the Gulf before the sea-floor gusher was capped three months later.
Halliburton's energy-services subsidiary designed and built the well for BP. In early May, the company began an internal investigation to determine whether the number of "centralizers" — metal collars that help keep the well pipe centered — played a role in the blowout. Halliburton recommends installing 21, but BP chose to use just six.
Halliburton ran 3-D computer simulations in May and June 2010, and both times the results indicated there was little difference between the two scenarios. Employees were then directed by unidentified individuals to destroy the simulations, the Justice Department said.
The Deepwater Horizon Task Force was unable to recover the computer simulations.
Halliburton and BP have blamed each other for the cement job that failed to seal the Macondo well.
In a separate statement regarding its contribution to the fish and wildlife foundation, Halliburton said: "Sustainability is at the core of the Company's long-term success and is embedded throughout our business. Our contribution to NFWF demonstrates our commitment to making a positive environmental impact on our world and a strong commitment to our local communities."
Source: USA Today