NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An executive from the company that was BP's cement contractor on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig testified Monday that he learned of some "irregularities" in tests that the contractor's employees performed after the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Timothy Probert, a Halliburton president who served as the company's chief safety officer at the time of the spill, didn't specify the nature of those irregularities during his testimony at a trial designed to assign fault to the companies involved in the deadly disaster.
However, an attorney for rig owner Transocean Ltd. asked Probert if he was angry when he learned in 2012 that "evidence had been destroyed."
"Yes," Probert said. "Obviously, it doesn't make you feel happy."
A plaintiffs' attorney who questioned Probert earlier Monday claimed Halliburton employees conducted "off-the-record" cement tests and didn't write down some test results because they feared how they could affect litigation spawned by the nation's worst offshore oil spill.
In a December 2011 court filing, BP accused Halliburton of intentionally destroying evidence from its cement testing. BP said Halliburton employee Rickey Morgan analyzed a cement slurry with the same composition as the foam slurry that was pumped at the Macondo well and verbally reported the results to a supervisor in 2010.
"He testified that the slurry 'looked thin,' which he explained implied lower-than-expected viscosity, a property that reflects how stable the slurry is when mixed and pumped into the well," BP attorneys wrote. "Significantly and remarkably, Mr. Morgan admitted under oath that he 'threw out' the slurry samples he tested because he was 'worried about' those materials 'being misinterpreted in the litigation.'"
Probert, who testified as the trial entered its third week, also testified under oath before Congress about the company's role in the drilling project shortly after the April 20, 2010, blowout of BP's Macondo well. Probert said Halliburton provided Congress with some "clarifications" about his testimony after the fact, but he said he didn't do that personally and didn't know what was clarified.
"I didn't know about any of the alleged testing until some considerable time after my testimony," said Probert, who now serves as Halliburton's president of strategy and corporate development.
Halliburton attorney Donald Godwin frequently interrupted and objected to some of the questions that plaintiffs' attorney Jeffrey Breit posed to Probert. Godwin complained that Breit had no basis for implying that Halliburton employees "threw out evidence."
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who is hearing the case without a jury, told Breit he was better off asking other witnesses about Halliburton's handling of evidence because Probert doesn't have firsthand knowledge of the tests.
"I don't know who threw away what or if anyone threw away anything," Barbier said. "My point is Mr. Breit has the wrong witness on the stand."
Probert said he didn't have anything to do with the Macondo drilling project before the well blowout triggered an explosion that killed 11 workers and spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf.
A series of government investigations have concluded that the blowout resulted from a complex web of mistakes and spread out the blame among BP and its contractors. One of those mistakes was the failure of the cement job, which allowed oil and gas to flow from the well.
Barring a settlement, the trial is expected to last several months before Barbier could decide how much more money the companies owe for their roles in the catastrophe.
JUNE 19 Former Saint Steve Gleason, who is paralyzed by ALS, released a statement Tuesday in response to the Atlanta radio station's skit making fun of him and the disease, this Picayune post reports. What did he say? He said he'd accepted the apology of the DJs who did it, notes that at least the incident has got people talking about ALS, and asks anyone who is burning to take action about it to do so -- by helping him fight ALS.
JUNE 19 Blogger Ian McGibboney takes a look at the Gleason incident in this post. He makes a good argument about the difference between having free speech and being free from consequences for your speech (which none of us is). He also admits that many of us got upset before we listened to the skit -- but lets us know that the reality is far worse than we can imagine. It was the incredibly bad judgment, even more than the actual speech, that probably got those DJs fired, he opines.
JUNE 19 Washington Post blogger Aaron Blake writes about Sen. Guillory's switch to the GOP in this post. He writes what most political watchers in Louisiana know: Guillory was a Republican before he decided to run for the senate seat in a mostly-D St. Landry district, and has switched back now that he plans to run for Lt. Gov. in a mostly-R state. But how come Blake missed Guillory's appearance on a TLC pageant show? Now that is a video we'd like to see. (Again).
JUNE 19 Here's another Washington Post blog post about a Louisiana politician, and it's just plain scathing. Ezra Klein says Jindal's Politico post was "insulting" to the intelligence of voters, and adds that Jindal is personifying the "stupid" he's railed against, by being an "elite" who convinces GOP activists of "things that aren't true." Me-ow.
JUNE 19 Here's Gov. Jindal's post in Politico, in which he asks the GOP to get over losing to Obama (again) and stop "the bedwetting." (Uh, what?) He gives his Republican buddies what is probably a nerd's idea of a coach's motivational talk, which starts with a list of accomplishments that they can't seem to exploit and ending with an absurd description of liberals that sounds like a character treatment for a Fox "News" movie scripted by Gordon Liddy. Sure, he's preaching to the choir, but even the choir's not this gullible.
JUNE 19 Lamar Parmentel read Gov. Jindal's post on Politico, but thinks it was so dumb it probably was published in the wrong paper. This post by Lamar on the Daily Kingfish opines that possibly Jindal's post was destined for the Onion -- because the governor couldn't possibly be serious here. If you listen closely, you can hear the staff of the Kingfish giggling.
JUNE 19 Blogger Robert Mann posts from Turkey, a country he has visited several times in the past few years. Mann gives an interesting overview of the current political and societal climate of the country, which -- if you're living under a rock and don't know -- is experiencing protests and turmoil these days. Mann promises to post as much as he can during his trip, which should be fascinating reading.
JUNE 19 Blogger CB Forgotston says the legislature is keeping the vicious cycle going with its funding of new buildings for the community college/technical college system. Universities across the state need maintenance and improvement on existing buildings, and the solution is to build new buildings at other schools? By the time the bonds are paid off, those buildings will be falling down, too, CB says.
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to offer shares of its stock to the public for the first time.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.