Halliburton Ordered to Turn Over Cement in Probe

Halliburton Knew Cement for BP Well Was Unstable
A Halliburton cement mixing tank operates on board the Transocean Ltd. Development Driller II. Photographer: Derick E. Hingle/Bloomberg

Halliburton Co. was ordered to turn over cement used on the Deepwater Horizon project in connection with a probe into the cause of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The order was given by a federal judge in New Orleans on Oct. 27.

The release of the court order today follows yesterday’s National Oil Commission report that Halliburton cement used on the BP Plc well in April was unstable.

The court order by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier of New Orleans requires Halliburton to turn over “certain materials” used in the cementing jobs on the Deepwater Horizon project to federal investigators from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of the Interior.

“It is further ordered that no destructive testing on the cementing components will be conducted without further order of the court,” said Barbier, who also is overseeing civil litigation arising from the oil spill.

“Halliburton will comply immediately with Judge Barbier’s order issued earlier today and expects the government to retrieve these items next week,” Cathy Mann, a Halliburton spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Halliburton attorneys have asked the judge for permission to comply with subpoenas from the U.S. Department of Justice, which is investigating possible civil and criminal violations in connection with the rig blast April 20 that killed 11 crewmen and led to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Anadarko Subpoena

Anadarko Petroleum Corp., which owns 25 percent of the well, was subpoenaed yesterday to turn over seven sample boxes containing about nine pounds of drill cuttings to the joint investigative panel, that company said in a court filing. Deborah Kuchler, a lawyer for Anadarko, said in papers filed today in Barbier’s court that the boxes contain 396 envelopes, each of which holds 40 to 68 samples of rock cuttings weighing from 0.25 ounces to 2 ounces each.

“The samples appear to have been taken at approximately 30-foot increments” across a zone ranging from a depth of 9,076 feet to 18,360 feet within the well, Kuchler said. She said the samples have been “washed and dried for storage.’’ With Barbier’s permission, the company will turn them over by the Nov. 4 deadline set in the subpoena, she said.

Kuchler and John Christiansen, an Anadarko spokesman, didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment after regular business hours today.

Physical Samples

Halliburton was ordered by Barbier to turn over specific items to federal investigators, including “physical samples from the Deepwater Horizon project” to investigators from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board; one quart of “ZoneSeal-2000” from the same “lot” or mixture used in the cementing job completed on the Deepwater Horizon on April 19; and two gallons and one quart of “SCR-100” from the same mixture used on the Deepwater Horizon cementing job.

Barbier said Halliburton is “willing to deliver” the materials requested by the joint investigation panel, a task force of Coast Guard and Interior Department investigators.

Halliburton advised the judge that the cementing materials may be “deteriorating over time,” Barbier said, adding that the evidence should be tested as soon as “reasonably practicable.”

Halliburton made a filing with the judge on Oct. 7 responding to subpoenas for the ZoneSeal and SCR-100 materials.

Same Batch

Halliburton “can also make available each of the liquid and dry additives of the type used on the Deepwater Horizon, but does not have possession of any quantity of those additives from the same batch or lot as was used on the Deepwater Horizon,” Halliburton lawyer Donald E. Godwin told the judge in the Oct. 7 filing. “Halliburton is agreeable to turning over all of the cementing components in response to the (federal) subpoena.”

The judge also ordered that no further testing on the subpoenaed materials should be done without his permission.

The case is In Re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, 2:10-md-02179 in the Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

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