BP plc said last week it would appeal after federal officials slapped the producer with two additional charges involving five incidents of noncompliance (INC) related to the April 2010 Macondo well blowout in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GOM).

The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) claims that BP failed to conduct an accurate pressure integrity test on the Macondo well and failed to suspend drilling operations in the GOM “when the safe drilling margin identified in the approved application for permit to drill was not maintained.”

BSEE Director James Watson said “further review of the evidence demonstrated additional regulatory violations by BP in its drilling and abandonment operations at the Macondo well.”

Based on the findings by the federal joint investigation team following the tragedy, BSEE in October cited BP for seven violations and issued four citations each to Transocean Ltd., owner of the Deepwater Horizon, and Halliburton Co., the drilling contractor (see NGI, Oct. 17). The BSEE citations are in preparation for civil penalties likely to be imposed by the federal government on the companies.

A BP spokesman said Wednesday the latest “issues raised…regarding drilling margins and related integrity testing played no causal role in the accident. BP intends to appeal these INCs, as well as those issued several weeks ago.” The company was given 60 days to file an appeal.

Last week BP claimed in a lawsuit that Halliburton had “intentionally destroyed evidence” in the weeks after the Macondo blowout. According to BP, Halliburton allegedly destroyed evidence that demonstrated that the cement formula it used on the Macondo well was flawed.

The federal court filings in New Orleans are part of a lawsuit demanding that sanctions be imposed on Halliburton Energy Services Inc., which was a contractor for BP on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

According to BP, which was majority owner and operator of the doomed well, Halliburton allegedly destroyed evidence that demonstrated that the cement formula it used on the Macondo well was flawed. Previously Halliburton said it believed the cement mix it recommended BP use on the Macondo well was stable.

Halliburton has argued in court filings that the well failed because of BP’s poor design choices and engineering job. However, in the latest lawsuit BP argued that Halliburton conducted tests following the explosion that found that the cement formula used on the Macondo well had problems.

BP alleges in the filings that Halliburton destroyed the cement testing evidence and violated court orders by not acknowledging “inexplicably missing” computer modeling results.

“Halliburton has steadfastly refused to provide these critical testing and modeling results in discovery,” the BP documents state. “Halliburton’s refusal has been unwavering, despite repeated BP discovery requests and a specific order from this court…

“BP has now learned the reason for Halliburton’s intransigence — Halliburton destroyed the results of physical slurry testing, and it has, at best, lost the computer modeling outputs that showed no channeling. More egregious still, Halliburton intentionally destroyed the evidence related to its nonprivileged cement testing, in part because it wanted to eliminate any risk that this evidence would be used against it at trial.”

The information was included in depositions of Halliburton employees in advance of civil lawsuits that are set to begin in February in New Orleans, BP said.

According to BP, two Halliburton employees testified under oath about destroying notes and samples related to analyzing the stability of a similar cement mixture used in the Macondo well.

Rickey Morgan, Halliburton global adviser in Gulf cementing, said in his deposition that he had not taken any notes or photos when he conducted the cement slurry tests. The Halliburton technician, who works in the company’s Duncan, OK, research lab, said he had recreated the cement formula used to case the well in late April or early May 2010 and found it was “thin” and unsuitable for the well design, according to BP.

However, he testified that he tossed the test results and failed to submit his conclusions in writing to a supervisor out of concern that the findings would be “misinterpreted” and “twisted and turned.”

BP has asked the court for a third-party specialist to examine a Halliburton computer used for the tests. “Such an examination might well recover the missing modeling results, or shed light on the circumstances for their apparent disappearance.”

During the discovery process, Halliburton allegedly failed to provide records of the tests conducted and informed BP officials that data collected and materials used in the tests had been destroyed. BP has asked the court to sanction Halliburton for misconduct. BP also requested that a computer used for the testing analysis be provided to an independent forensic testing firm.

A Halliburton spokeswoman said the company is reviewing the lawsuit. “However, we believe that the conclusions that BP is asking the court to draw is without merit and we look forward to contesting their motion in court.”

Halliburton in September accused BP of hiding information that could have prevented the Macondo blowout. BP has denied those claims.

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