Halliburton pleads guilty to destroying Gulf spill evidence

The company logo of Halliburton oilfield services corporate offices is seen in Houston, Texas in this April 6, 2012 file photo. Halliburton Co has agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the Un
The company logo of Halliburton oilfield services corporate offices is seen in Houston, Texas in this April 6, 2012 file photo. Halliburton Co has agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the United States (US) Department of Justice said on Thursday. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - Halliburton Co has agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the United States (US) Department of Justice said on Thursday.

The government said the guilty plea is the third by a company over the spill, and requires the world's second-largest oilfield services company to pay a maximum US$200,000 (S$253,000) statutory fine. Halliburton also made a separate, voluntary US$55 million payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Justice Department said.

Halliburton also agreed to three years of probation, and to continue cooperating with the criminal probe into the April 20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

Court approval of the settlement is required.

A Halliburton spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The disaster caused 11 deaths and triggered the largest US offshore oil spill following the rupture of the Macondo oil well, which was 65 per cent owned by BP Plc Halliburton had earlier provided cementing services to help seal the well.

According to the government, Halliburton recommended to BP that the Macondo well contain 21 centralisers, metal collars that can improve cementing, but BP chose to use six.

The government said that, during an internal probe into the cementing after the blowout, Halliburton ordered workers to destroy computer simulations that showed little difference between using six and 21 centralisers. Efforts to forensically locate the simulations were unsuccessful, the government said.

A document detailing the allegations was filed with the US District Court in New Orleans.

BP and Transocean Ltd previously entered guilty pleas related to other aspects of the Gulf oil spill. Neither immediately responded to requests for comment.