Ex-BP Executive’s Trial Over Spill Postponed to March

A criminal trial of former BP Plc executive David Rainey over U.S. allegations he lied to investigators about the size of the 2010 oil spill has been postponed to March from October.

Rainey, BP’s former vice president of Gulf of Mexico exploration, was indicted last year on two counts of making false statements that understated the volume of oil gushing from the company’s blown-out well. Rainey has pleaded not guilty.

U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt in May threw out one of the charges, the claim that Rainey obstructed a congressional investigation. The U.S. filed a superseding indictment last month seeking to revive the charge. Both sides asked that the trial be postponed.

“Based upon counsel’s representations, the superseding indictment, the necessity of additional pretrial motions and related briefing, the complexity of this matter and the need for defendant to review voluminous discovery, the court finds that a continuance is appropriate,” Engelhardt said today in setting the new trial date at March 10.

Rainey’s case had been scheduled as the first criminal trial arising out of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The first criminal trial now set is for December, against former BP engineer Kurt Mix, who has pleaded not guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice over allegations he deleted text-message strings from his mobile phone over the spill size.

A third criminal trial is set for January against the two BP well-site leaders who were aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig when an explosion killed 11 workers and triggered the biggest U.S. offshore oil spill.

BP pleaded guilty to 14 charges and agreed to pay $4 billion to resolve all criminal claims it faced arising from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The case is U.S. v. Rainey, 2:12-cr-00291, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

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