Halliburton Co. and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. fell today after a U.S. panel investigating the Gulf of Mexico oil spill dimmed expectations that the companies would be able to escape liability for a BP Plc well that exploded and killed 11 workers in April.
Houston-based Halliburton fell $1.20, or 3 percent, to $38.22 at 4:21 p.m. on New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares fell as low as $37.68. Anadarko, based in The Woodlands, Texas, fell 2.4 percent to $74.46. Since the spill, the companies have outperformed BP as well as Transocean Ltd., which owned the rig at the Macondo well.
Bad decisions by London-based BP and its main contractors, Halliburton and Transocean, coupled with lax government oversight, caused the largest U.S. offshore oil spill, the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill said yesterday. Anadarko has a 25 percent stake in the Macondo well.
Investor opinion of Halliburton’s liability has fluctuated in recent weeks, Brian Youngberg, an analyst at Edward Jones in St. Louis, said in a telephone interview.
“The sentiment today, after investors read this report in a little more detail, is just a little bit more pessimistic than it was just a couple days ago,” said Youngberg, who rates the Halliburton shares a “hold” and owns none.
Before today, Halliburton gained 18 percent since April 20 and Anadarko increased 3.2 percent. BP dropped 24 percent and Transocean fell 20 percent in the same period.
Anadarko said on June 18 that the spill was the result of reckless actions by BP, possibly stemming from willful misconduct.
The argument of gross negligence on the part of BP looks as though it may not protect Anadarko from all spill costs, said Jim Byrne, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets in Calgary, who has a “market perform” rating on Anadarko shares and owns none.
“I think people have started to recognize that Anadarko will probably have to pay up at some point,” Byrne said.
The company has withheld reimbursement to BP for costs related to the spill.
“We fully cooperated with the commission during its investigation, and stand behind our statement of June 18th that continues to be supported by this latest chapter in the commission’s report, previous public testimonies and preliminary investigations,” John Christiansen, a spokesman for Anadarko, said today in an e-mail.
The commission “selectively omitted information we provided to them in response to their numerous inquiries,” Teresa Wong, a Halliburton spokeswoman, said late yesterday in an e-mail. “Halliburton acted at the direction of BP.”
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