Ex-BP Vice President’s Trial Over Spill Reset for Sept. 23

The trial of a former BP Plc senior vice president charged with obstructing federal investigations into the cause of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill has been reset for Sept. 23.

David Rainey of Houston, who was vice president of exploration for the Gulf of Mexico and the company’s second-highest official during its response to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, had been scheduled to go to trial Jan. 28.

U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt in New Orleans postponed the Rainey trial today following a status conference with defense attorneys and federal prosecutors, according to a court clerk.

The blowout and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig killed 11 workers and started millions of barrels of crude leaking into the Gulf. It also set off hundreds of lawsuits against London-based BP, its partners and contractors on the project.

As BP’s deputy incident commander to the oil spill response, Rainey worked on joint efforts with federal agencies to stanch the broken Macondo well, located off the Louisiana coast. He also worked on BP efforts to estimate the amount of oil leaking from the well.

Falsifying Estimates

Two counts of the indictment accuse him of obstructing a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee investigation by falsifying oil spill flow-rate estimates and lying to federal investigators.

If convicted, he faces as many as five years in prison on each count.

Since his indictment by a grand jury was announced Nov. 15, BP and Transocean Ltd. have pleaded guilty to criminal charges over the spill.

BP agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal counts, including 11 for felony manslaughter related to the 11 deaths that occurred when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and sank. The company also pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count under the Clean Water Act, one misdemeanor count under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and one felony count of obstruction of Congress.

Transocean, the Vernier, Switzerland-based owner and operator of the rig, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor violation of the U.S. Clean Water Act.

Two BP well-site managers were charged with involuntary manslaughter and Rainey were charged with obstruction and false statements.

The criminal case is U.S. v. Rainey, 12-cr-291, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

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