26 October 2014, News Wires – Halliburton has urged the judge overseeing the US’ case against BP in the Macondo penalty phase to not give the UK supermajor a new trial as requested, according to a report.
The services giant said in a court filing that US District Judge Carl Barbier did not rely on excluded testimony when he judged BP to have been “grossly negligent” in the deadly 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
BP’s own lawyers are responsible for trial testimony that the London-based oil company complains led to an unfair finding against it, according to Halliburton, the cementing subcontractor on the blown-out well.
“BP itself introduced the very testimony that it now claims was excluded and upon which the court relied to partially support its casing-breach findings,” lawyers for Houston-based Halliburton said in the filing cited by Bloomberg.
BP “mischaracterises” the record of a 2013 trial over the spill “to remedy its own failed trial tactics”, Halliburton added.
Barbier ruled last month that BP acted with gross negligence in drilling the Macondo well off the Louisiana coast. The well gushed more than 4 million barrels of crude into the Gulf, the worst offshore spill in US history.
The ruling exposes BP to potentially more than $18 billion in US pollution fines. That sum would be on top of the more than $28 billion BP has already paid for spill-related response, clean-up costs and damages.
Barbier determined the Macondo well failed in part because flawed drilling practices caused a breach to open in the metal casing lining the bottom of the well. That rupture prevented Halliburton’s cement from properly sealing off the sides of the well, allowing hydrocarbons to escape into the pipe and flow to the surface, he said in a 153-page ruling.
BP claims Barbier improperly reached that conclusion by relying on testimony the he said he would not consider during the trial. The disputed testimony was provided by Gene Beck, a Halliburton expert witness, who had not addressed certain casing-breach causes in a report he wrote before the trial.
Halliburton said BP’s lawyers probed Beck on the casing-breach theory during cross-examination, after Barbier said Beck could not discuss it.
“Beck’s testimony was properly admitted, and the court’s reliance on that testimony is sound,” Halliburton said.
Lawyers for the US, which is suing London-based BP to recover damages to publicly-owned natural resources and for violations of the Clean Water Act, also say the disputed testimony was properly admitted at trial. They said in a separate court filing that it would not matter if that particular evidence was excluded now, according to Bloomberg.
“Ample other evidence supports the court’s conclusion that BP damaged” the casing at the bottom of the well and ruined the cement job, US lawyers said in a filing opposing BP’s retrial bid.
“Removal of one disputed point of testimony would affect at most only a few sentences” of the opinion and “would not change a single ultimate finding or conclusion”.
Neither BP nor Halliburton commented when contacted by Bloomberg.
In Septmeber, Halliburton reached an agreement to settle a “substantial majority” of the claims outstanding against it over the oil spill for around $1.1 billion including legal fees.