US Government Charges BP, Transocean and Halliburton for Deepwater Horizon Incident

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BP plans to forge ahead with several new oil and gas projects in the UK’s North Sea in the next five years. (Photo: Massimo Bassi)
BP plans to forge ahead with several new oil and gas projects in the UK’s North Sea in the next five years. (Photo: Massimo Bassi)


  • BP, Transocean and Halliburton face US charges for April 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill
  • Implication of Transocean and Halliburton potentially good news for BP
  • BP presses forward with projects in UK’s North Sea

The US government has formally charged BP, Transocean and Halliburton with safety and environmental violations for the Gulf of Mexican oil well explosion; the April 2010 disaster spilled nearly 5 million barrels of oil and killed 11 oil industry workers.

These charges were the conclusion of a September 14 Deepwater Horizon accident investigation. The verdict confirmed a breach of 15 offshore regulations, according to the newly-formed Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Reinforcement.

Among the companies’ offenses were not taking “measures to prevent unauthorised discharge of pollutants into offshore waters” and “failing to perform all operations in a safe and workmanlike manner.”

BP Faces 7 Charges

BP faces seven total charges for spearheading the project and owning the Macondo Well; Haliburton faces 4 charges for offering the cement that did not successfully seal the well and prevent gas or oil leakage. Similarly, Transocean faces four charges for owning and operating the drilling rig but failing to maintain its blowout preventer. Each charge comes with a fee of up to $35,000 per violation per day but companies may appeal within 60 days of being charged, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

The news that other companies would be implicated in the disaster was welcome news for BP. Acknowledgment of other companies’ involvement could make it easier for BP to reach a settlement without being charged for gross negligence – a charge that would increase fines to four times more than in the case of charges of regular negligence.

To date, Transocean plans to appeal its charges. Halliburton is prepared to cooperate with regulatory officials under the assumption that its contract with BP at the time of the incident protects it from any penalties and losses.

Business As Usual For BP

BP appears to accept responsibility as operator, and has expressed that contractors Transocean and Halliburton should also acknowledge their role in the disaster. BP claims that it has already implemented safety measures in the Gulf of Mexico above and beyond regulators’ requirements.

In the meantime, business continues for BP, with the company recently granted permission by the UK government to move forward with its partners Shell, ConocoPhillips and Chevron on plans for the £4.5 billion Clair Ridge project, marking phase two of development of the large Clair field.

BP plans to forge ahead with several new oil and gas projects in the UK’s North Sea in the next five years. These projects will potentially provide 3,000 new jobs in the oil and gas supply chain industry, and maintain the over - 3,500 such jobs in BP’s North Sea station at present.

Key Facts & Statistics (Source: MarketLine)

  • The gas and oil market worldwide gained just over $2,640 billion in total revenues in 2010, marking a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 3% from 2006 to 2010.
  • With a CAGR of over 3% from 2006 to 2010, market consumption volumes hit a high of almost 74 billion BOE in 2010.
  • From 2010 to 2015, the market’s performance is expected to increase rapidly; with a projected 7% CAGR; the market could reach a near $3,700 value by year end, 2015.

By Christelle Agboka for
Christelle Agboka is a freelance journalist based in Kingston, Ontario, who covers business and economy news.

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