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Drilling Rig Manager Charged With Lying About Blowout Tests

Donald Hudson, who was a manager at Helmerich & Payne Inc., was charged with lying to a federal agent reviewing blowout prevention testing and records of drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Hudson, 49, lied to an investigator with the U.S. Department of Interior’s inspector general office when he denied directing others to falsify blowout prevention testing records, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten in New Orleans said today in a statement.

Prosecutors said Hudson was employed by Helmerich & Payne as a drilling rig manager aboard Rig 206 in May 2010, during a period of heightened vigilance on oil rigs following the deadly blowout that killed 11 crew members aboard the Deepwater Horizon operated by BP Plc -- an unrelated incident that triggered the nation’s worst offshore oil spill.

In May 2011, the company said in a regulatory filing that it suspended operations on an offshore rig after an employee reported possible “testing irregularities.” The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based company told stockholders that operations on the rig were “promptly suspended,” federal authorities were alerted, and “certain employees” were fired for violating company policies and procedures.

The company said it was cooperating with a grand jury investigation of the matter.

Hudson’s attorney, Steven Lemoine of New Orleans, declined to comment on the charges.

Steven R. Mackey, vice president and general counsel of Helmerich & Payne Inc., didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail message after regular business hours seeking comment on the charges against Hudson.

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