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Hallibuton Pleads Guilty To Destroying Simulation Data From 2010 Gulf Oil Spill

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the who's-to-blame dept.

Businesses 104

An anonymous reader writes "Oilfield services giant Halliburton will plead guilty to destroying computer test results that had been sought as evidence in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Justice Department announced Thursday. Company officials threw out test results that showed 'little difference' between the number of devices Halliburton said was needed to center the cement casing in the well at the heart of the disaster and the number well owner BP installed, according to court papers. The issue has been key point of contention between the two companies in hearings and litigation ever since the April 2010 blowout. BP and Halliburton are still battling over responsibility for the disaster in a New Orleans federal courtroom. BP had no comment on the plea agreement Thursday evening."

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Knowledge and the ocean. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44389085)

Really the control of the world being in the 'peoples' hands is and has always been an illusion. Either accept that and move on with life, or join in the strife and game of trying to gain the reigns of control and world dominance.

People and figureheads and celebrities all believe different things and tell you what to believe. They are just as deceived as you are. Our leaders are nothing more than puppets who dance on invisible strings.

The only way to change this outward self is to change your own self. If we collectively stop accepting the illusion and accept that things are out of our control. That we can work towards a common good. And that it requires an attitude and outlook on life contrary to "gain more".

Our societies will in turn change and our civilization will reshape itself. Outing the corrupt and evil overlords that are now at the top of the pyramid.

Do not live in fear. Live in understanding. Accept what is. And be grateful you are still here to change it.

-MJR

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44389197)

Cutesy, but the Gulf oil spill was 100% man made. Climate change is man made.

We're at a point in development where we know just enough to be dangerous. And we have a huge industry that's used to f*** up the planet at the whims of clueless and greedy economists.

The nature is big and resilient but not infinitely so. And when the shit starts hitting the fan the poor people who're least responsible for it bear the brunt of the burder, as always. Millions and millions will die thanks to the actions of the 1%.

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44389731)

Its their fault for being poor. They should have chosen rich parents like the rest of us!

Posted anonymously cos I am a scumbag!

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (-1, Troll)

patiodragon (920102) | about a year ago | (#44389759)

"Climate change is man made."

Sooooooo...., the climate didn't change on earth before man appeared here. REALLY?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nq4Bc2WCsdE [youtube.com]

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44389963)

"Climate change is man made."

Sooooooo...., the climate didn't change on earth before man appeared here. REALLY?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nq4Bc2WCsdE [youtube.com]

Don't be an idiot. Of course it did. For many reasons, not one single factor. What's of concern is that there's a new player at the table: human activity. And whether it's altering climate fast enough to damage human life. And possibly render species extinct at a rate not seen in 65 million years.

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (0)

ozydingo (922211) | about a year ago | (#44390289)

"-1: troll" right. Slashdot should really up the frequency of meta-moderation specifically for -1 mods and strip assholes who abuse it too much of any future mod points.

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44390417)

You have noticed the Republican slant of /. ?

Republican - Libertarian, same stink, different name.

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#44390299)

So when someone says obviously false statements about "climate change", it's a medical condition like Tourette Syndrome?

What's of concern is that there's a new player at the table: human activity.

Ok, so it's a "concern". I imagine some future historians will be interested in all the word games and rationalizations that pro-AGW advocates have used over the years.

And whether it's altering climate fast enough to damage human life. And possibly render species extinct at a rate not seen in 65 million years.

Let's note two things. First, there are basic behavior and structural changes that can be made right now which would greatly mitigate the alleged effects of AGW, even if we never do anything about AGW itself. For example, if the US stops subsidizing the construction of property in flood-prone areas via public flood insurance. Or if we connect natural areas with wilderness corridors (and otherwise worked on reducing habitat destruction) so that plants and animals have means to migrate and adapt to whatever future changes happen.

Second, when we compare measurements of modern extinction rates to prehistorical mass extinctions, we're comparing apples and oranges. The vast majority of modern species have limited scope spatially and temporally. If they had existed during the end of the Cretaceous, they probably would never have left a fossil record. We see far more of the species that exist in the world now than if we were to look only at the fossil record 65 million years from now.

So when discussing extinction rates and percentages, we need to remember that relatively common and long lasting species with durable body parts would be most likely to be present in the fossil record. The frog that appears around a single waterfall or stream or the bird that nests only on a particular island would most likely be lost forever. So those mass extinctions of the past were of organisms that were typically more prevalent and long lasting than most of the species we see around us today. The mass extinctions of the past are worse than they appear, because we will never know of most of the species that existed back then.

Further, we need to recall that most of the die-off of large animals, a traditional feature of mass extinctions, has already happened. A lot of species present 20,000 years ago have since died out or dwindled greatly in population. That may have had something to do with the global warming following the end of the glacial period, but it more likely had to do with overhunting by humans. And it's a fait accompli. Even a complete reversal of the effects of human activity (not just of AGW effects) won't bring back many of those species.

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44392025)

Your entire post can be summed up in one word:

rationalization.

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#44395013)

Your entire post can be summed up in one word:

Projection.

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (2)

robthebloke (1308483) | about a year ago | (#44390685)

Sooooooo...., the climate didn't change on earth before man appeared here. REALLY?

Sooooooo......, you're a climate scientist who has spent a substantial part of their life studying the effects that man made atmospheric pollution have on the Earth's climate? No? Then forgive me if I ignore everything you say, and instead listen to people who are qualified to talk on this subject.

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44390867)

News for ya asshole...neither are you.

All the arguing that goes on here about AGW is nothing more that a bunch of stupid Face Painting Homers shouting that their team is smarter and better. That includes you.

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44391433)

News for ya asshole...neither are you.

All the arguing that goes on here about AGW is nothing more that a bunch of stupid Face Painting Homers shouting that their team is smarter and better. That includes you.

You are and idiot :)

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (1)

GoogleShill (2732413) | about a year ago | (#44392095)

The consensus among scientists is that climate change is real and man has contributed significantly to it.

The arguing around here is about whether to believe them or not and whether we need regulations in place to help the situation.

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (1)

Vancorps (746090) | about a year ago | (#44392333)

Yes, I wish the debate could get past who and what is causing it and move on to how to mitigate or reduce it. Course we've wasted so much time now. We had an opportunity to provide a good example to developing nations but instead we're providing a bad example and surprirse, their environments are complete crap. Look at what China had to do to get the air quality up for the Olympics.

It''s baffling that the argument is still whether we are affecting nature when there are examples you can actually see all over the world. Seems like some people aren't happy unless the lakes are catching on fire AGAIN. Help nature and you help yourself. We don't need to live in mud huts but we have plenty of room to be more sensible.

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44392383)

The consensus among many scientists is that climate change is real and man has contributed significantly to it.

The consensus among other scientists is that climate change is real but not enough is known to blame any one thing.

The consensus among yet other scientists is that climate change is on hold for reasons no one understands.

There, Fixed and improved.

Very credible scientists have different views on this. Only the Face Painting Homers have one view.

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44396409)

To make an extremely accurate analogy of what you just said:

The consensus among many scientists is that light travels through a vacuum at C.

The consensus among other scientists is that light travels through luminiferous aether.

The consensus among yet other scientists is that the world is flat and rests of the back of an infinite series of giant turtles.

In order, there's Most Likely Correct, Already Disproven, and Not Even Wrong.

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (1)

Kielistic (1273232) | about a year ago | (#44391437)

Soooo.... Climate change occurred for the exact same reason and only that reason every time it has happened in the past x billion years on the planet?

Insightful?! Is Slashdot selling modpoints to Halliburton and BP or something?

I LOLd (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44391449)

TrollScore(tm): 2/10

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44394195)

People die even if I don't kill them. So it must be okay for me to kill them. Great logic.

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44389927)

This is like the tobacco companies when they all lied about cancer. Seems like there could be a rift happening sooner or later. The tipping point seems to be coming in the next couple years (and by couple I mean anywhere up to 30)

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (2)

MedBob (96899) | about a year ago | (#44390067)

"We're at a point in development where we know just enough to be dangerous."

So you're saying that there are clueless and greedy economists involved in Industry, but that their are none in Climate Science?
Or, putting it a different way, Climate Scientists are not included in the above general statement, however commercial scientists are?

I agree 100% with the above statement. And I am confident in applying it across the board. That fact has ramifications.

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (1)

publiclurker (952615) | about a year ago | (#44391529)

I'm sure there are some climate scientists whoring out their formerly good name to your comercial masters.

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44396473)

Thankfully they typically get caught before they can espouse their bought and paid for "research", and get thoroughly discredited so we all know their integrity is for sale to the oil industry.

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#44391035)

Greedy economists?

I'm trying to figure out for the life of me how an economist profits off of this one. All they really do is observe and model how the economy works, without necessarily partaking in it as part of their job title.

And the actions of the 1%, who is the 1%? The richest 1%? That includes people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet right, the same people who dump billions into trying to solve world hunger, ending diseases, and researching next generation green energy?

Or are you talking about 1% of the global wealthiest? Because if you make more than $40,000 per year, then you are that 1%. And why 1%? Why not the top 3.14159%?

I love how slashdot randomly attacks groups that it perceives as being powerful for no reason other than the fact that it perceives them as being powerful, doesn't matter if they actually did anything wrong.

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (2)

scot4875 (542869) | about a year ago | (#44392109)

People only say "The 1%" because it's easier to say than what it really is, which is closer to the 0.001%, but the concept is not difficult to grasp. The vast majority of wealth and power is concentrated in very few hands.

But somehow, even this simple concept seems to have gone over your head, and you think that it makes sense to lump someone making $40k/year (in the US, I assume) into the same group as someone making tens of millions per year. At this point I'm going to assume that your feigned ignorance is either real ignorance or, quite possibly, stupidity.

--Jeremy

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#44392411)

... really?

You know, your revised figure still includes basically all of the major contributors to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

Of course, if you want to argue that all of them are secretly plotting to take over the world and/or ruin your life somehow, be my guest, but that view had no basis in reality. Unless of course you believe that vaccines, GMO, and nuclear energy are all plots to oppress the poor, and if so I truly pity how miserable you must needlessly make yourself feel every day.

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44391419)

Millions and millions will die thanks to the actions of the 1%.

...and best of all, NO ONE IS GOING TO JAIL over this!

These "super-people" corporations are immune from criminal prosecution. I am so going to incorporate myself and start robbing banks.

(Note to NSA: this is a joke you witless bastards)

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (2)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#44392441)

Like banks, oil companies are too big to jail [rollingstone.com] . Minions just don't jail their masters.

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (1)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | about a year ago | (#44393337)

But the NSA won't read your comment, cause they only track the metadata. And everyone knows metadata can never be changed.

Re:Knowledge and the ocean. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44389729)

Dancing on invisible strings? Our politicians must be geniuses as they rarely fall down.

what don't we know? (2, Interesting)

globaljustin (574257) | about a year ago | (#44389101)

from TFA:

Halliburton has agreed to pay the maximum fines available, be put on probation for three years and cooperate with federal agencies that are still investigating the spill, the Justice Department said in a statement announcing Thursday's agreement. In addition Halliburton has made a $55 million "voluntary contribution" to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation,

They 'took a deal' in the parlance of the criminal justice world.

I'm wondering what else is out there. Also in TFA I read that BP was 'convicted' of Manslaughter for its role.

These companies don't 'take deals' unless it is the absolute last option. They will deny and tie up litigation for 10 years until everyone forgets. They will buy judges and prosecutors. They will hire thugs to find dirt on opponents, or make dirt if none exists.

Given their history, the fact that Halliburton, BP, etc took these deals indicates they could be covering for a much larger level of negligence...

In my wildest conspiracy theories, the English Monarchy and other old money global illuminati types (Bush's?) purposefully had the well blown to punish America for stopping Keystone XL.

Re: what don't we know? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44389263)

Plead guilty to destroying evidence and convicted of manslaughter ... and no one will go to jail. Try that in non-corporate America.

Re: what don't we know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44389279)

Non-corporate America. Is that Canada or Mexico?

Re: what don't we know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44389459)

Gotta ba Mexico. Canada attained corporate status when Harper came to power.

Re: what don't we know? (-1, Troll)

guyniraxn (1579409) | about a year ago | (#44389683)

Sorry but Mexico patterned their system of capitalist democracy off of ours (USA). Corruption is rampant. [nytimes.com]

Re: what don't we know? (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#44389717)

Plead guilty to destroying evidence and convicted of manslaughter ... and no one will go to jail.

Yep.

If the order was given to destroy data then there HAS to be a person who gave that order. It's time they were hunted down.

Presumably it's the same person who's now telling them to plead guilty (and save his ass from further investigation).

Re: what don't we know? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#44389863)

If the order was given to destroy data then there HAS to be a person who gave that order. It's time they were hunted down.

The thing is, this being Halliburton, it's possible that the person that gave the order to destroy evidence has already gotten away with much more heinous crimes and effectively has immunity from prosecution for anything he does. And if they try to hunt him down, he might shoot them in the face.

Re: what don't we know? (1)

ozydingo (922211) | about a year ago | (#44390313)

The thing is, this being Halliburton, it's virtually guaranteed that the person that gave the order to destroy evidence has already gotten away with much more heinous crimes and effectively has immunity from prosecution for anything he does.

FTFY

Re: what don't we know? (1)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | about a year ago | (#44391647)

If the order was given to destroy data then there HAS to be a person who gave that order. It's time they were hunted down.

The thing is, this being Halliburton, it's possible that the person that gave the order to destroy evidence has already gotten away with much more heinous crimes and effectively has immunity from prosecution for anything he does. And if they try to hunt him down, he might shoot them in the face.

No, I'm sure he would only shoot his friends in the face but he probably would have an airtight walk-in safe for everyone else.

Re: what don't we know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44392683)

Whoosh [wikipedia.org]

What was that? That was the sound of the quail flying over your head.

Re: what don't we know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44394309)

Double whoosh? It looks like you get another shot at it.

Re: what don't we know? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#44389945)

But all record of the order is probably 'lost' too.

Any competent criminal giving such a cover-up instruction would visit their underling in person and give the order verbally, rather than risk any form of electronic communication or written record.

Re: what don't we know? (2)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44390213)

We need a system of punishments that really works for corporations. The corporation can't break the law without specific people also breaking the law on behalf of the corporation. Those who gave the orders need to go to jail and those who followed the orders also need to go to jail, and the fines have to be meaningful deterrrents and object lessons to other corporations. It has to be made MUCH more expensive to be caught breaking the law than to obey it. Take a year's revenue from a company like Halliburton and the people who own what's left when it's over won't forget, nor will anybody else in industry.

If this destroys the corporation and wipes out its assets, so be it.

Re: what don't we know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44390803)

You forget the twisted logic the courts have already applied to these arguments - - - The corporation *is* the person that gave the order. And there is no penalty defined in the manslaughter statues that includes bankruptcy or dissolution.

Re:what don't we know? (4, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | about a year ago | (#44389307)

In my wildest conspiracy theories, the English Monarchy and other old money global illuminati types (Bush's?) purposefully had the well blown to punish America for stopping Keystone XL.

In my wildest conspiracy theories, the very rich and mighty are still people and fuck up often. The only difference is that they consider some millions of dollars to just be the expected cost of doing business.

Re:what don't we know? (2)

eth1 (94901) | about a year ago | (#44390467)

In my wildest conspiracy theories, the English Monarchy and other old money global illuminati types (Bush's?) purposefully had the well blown to punish America for stopping Keystone XL.

In my wildest conspiracy theories, the very rich and mighty are still people and fuck up often. The only difference is that they consider some millions of dollars and a few dead peons to just be the expected cost of doing business.

FTFY...

Bush? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44389315)

I thought Cheney owned Halliburton.

Cha ka ka.

Re:what don't we know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44389419)

Making the suit last for 10 years would cost them more in public opinion than paying the fine.

Re:what don't we know? (2)

Stivers Elizabeth (2862807) | about a year ago | (#44389477)

Just pay the fine and it's back to business for them.

"Taking a deal" is not dispositive (1)

PapayaSF (721268) | about a year ago | (#44392705)

These companies don't 'take deals' unless it is the absolute last option.

Not true. A quick settlement is often far cheaper than drawn-out litigation for which a company must pay a legal team thousands of dollars per hour. This happens in lawsuits all the time, with corporations, government entities, and individuals. Patent trolls and bringers of nuisance lawsuits depend on this behavior.

I don't have an opinion about this case, but just wanted to say that it's a bad idea to assume "it was cheaper to settle quickly" is evidence of guilt.

civil cases (1)

globaljustin (574257) | about a year ago | (#44396419)

it's a bad idea to assume "it was cheaper to settle quickly" is evidence of guilt.

You're missing potentialities and it causes you to focus too narrowly on a few outcomes.

It *could* be cheaper to settle quickly...for alot of reasons...but not in this case...

Ex: It could be cheaper to settle quickly because it gets it out of the news (hopefully on a good note) quickly which has a discernable effect on the ammount of awards from juries in civil cases.

I don't agree, but that's a falsification of my position that shows a broader view of outcomes.

See, the Civil lawsuits have just begun.

Pleading guilty now actually *hurts* BP and Halliburton because when Joe's shrimp boat company, or homeowners with destroyed beaches, or even municipalities file Civil lawsuits the facts of the charges (maybe not the plea of guilt, but the finding of fact of actions) is admissible.

That means a Civil jury can hear that, say, BP has admitted it tried to hide blowout simulations for the pump that indicate negligence...they can present that.

That means $$$$$$$$ in Civil awards from juries...so in the long run, no, admitting guilt would *not* in this case be a viable option.

It appears there could be negligence we don't know about...and that they are acting to keep it hidden...at least that's MHO about the matter.

All simulations lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44389107)

Some are useful.
Disclaimer: I do DES for a living,

Re:All simulations lie (3, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | about a year ago | (#44390659)

Well, I don't know about engineering simulations, but I've worked with systems that did public health simulations. What laymen *think* a computer model can do is predict the future. And maybe in some cases a model can come close to doing that. But the real value of models is to generate questions and hypotheses for investigation.

The problem with models is that they're only as good as the input data you feed them, and in many cases the data is unknowable or based on assumptions you aren't sure of. And that leads to a practical application of a model. You don't say, "I know that X is true, therefore Y will or will not happen" because you almost certainly don't know everything you'd need to know to make such a positive prediction. Rather, you say, "If you are worried about Y, you'd better check on X."

Tthat Halliburton destroyed the documentation when it knew that documentation was needed for the DWH investigation makes me wonder whether simulation results suggested Transocean (the operators of DWH) ought to be paying attention to certain preventable factors that contributed to the disaster. Even if that didn't let Transocean off the hook, it might change the distribution of damages and fines paid by the responsible parties.

Re: All simulations lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44391093)

All simulations are finite, and incomplete.

Usefulness is only a factor depending on your preference of premise and outcome.

Check your headline, it should be "Halliburton" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44389117)

I know it is early, but posting before coffee is irresponsible (I just had to use the spell-checker myself).

Re:Check your headline, it should be "Halliburton" (1)

korbulon (2792438) | about a year ago | (#44389157)

I know it is early, but posting before coffee is irresponsible (I just had to use the spell-checker myself).

It would be an ever better headline if it said "Halle Berry".

Re:Check your headline, it should be "Halliburton" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44389621)

Typo? I read it Hellbuton, kinda fits..

Halleebyooton (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44389141)

Halleebyooton

$200.000 in fines (5, Informative)

Racerdude (1006357) | about a year ago | (#44389239)

"Under the plea agreement, which requires court approval, Houston-based Halliburton will also face three years' probation, pay the maximum fine of $200,000..."
http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/07/25/halliburton-guilty-plea-destroying-evidence-deepwater-horizon/2588105/ [usatoday.com]

Not too bad... I think they may be able to afford it.

Re:$200.000 in fines (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44389345)

yeah good thing they didn't perform wire fraud(or weren't prosecuted for that)..

just regular good 'ol boys fraud affecting billions of dollars..

Re:$200.000 in fines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44389389)

Like i always say, the more you scam, the less you pay (atleast in percentage).

Re:$200.000 in fines (5, Insightful)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about a year ago | (#44389457)

"Under the plea agreement, which requires court approval, Houston-based Halliburton will also face three years' probation, pay the maximum fine of $200,000..."

yeah good thing they didn't perform wire fraud(or weren't prosecuted for that)..

just regular good 'ol boys fraud affecting billions of dollars..

Foul up an entire ecosystem, wreck the lives of thousands, destroy the evidence, pay $200.000.
Download 30 songs off a torrent pay $675.000.

I can't imagine I'm the only one who thinks that is a broke way of valuing things. How about handing in one of those White House petitions about this issue and asking them what they are going to do about it. The answer should be interesting. Even if it turns out to be a gust of hot air at least we'd get to see them squirm for a while.

Re:$200.000 in fines (1)

gmack (197796) | about a year ago | (#44389833)

Keep in mind this fine isn't for all of that. It's just for deleting a bunch of data. There are more fines to come.

Re:$200.000 in fines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44390141)

Keep in mind this fine isn't for all of that. It's just for deleting a bunch of data. There are more fines to come.

If that data would have shown, as is likely, that Halliburton had a lot more to do with the accident than BP, then paying $200,000 to destroy the data was a good trade. Let BP bear the brunt of the blow back, and skate away more or less Scott (and cost) free. I wouldn't count on additional fines being forthcoming...after all, the incriminating data has been conveniently destroyed.

Re:$200.000 in fines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44392679)

From TFA, they've pled guilty to deleting simulations that showed it didn't matter whether BP used 21 centralizers, or 6. Halliburton charges for each of those centralizers (basically steel screw-on pipe attachments). So in the absense of any direct job/efficiency benefits, Halliburton never presented BP with any of their work using the fewer number, they simply recommended the larger number since it was more cost effective (for Halliburton), and could only benefit the cementing work if it did anything. It became an issue later only because Halliburton used as part of their defense the fact that BP didn't take their recommendation and use 21. They used 6. This was always a pretty silly defense by Halliburton, as the ultimate cause of the blowout was not the cementing job per se (poor quality cementing jobs are quite common, and we know how to remediate them), but the well displacement to seawater after multiple BP supervisors incorrectly interperted pressure test results multiple times. Note that within the industry it is an open question as to whether or not ANY cementing/wellbore simulation software can accurately model the effects of centralizer placement/frequency. BP obviously believes that it can't. In the scheme of things, this was by far the most trivial thing BP ignored in the lead up to Macondo. Which is to say, DOJ had nothing they could prove again HAL relating to Macondo, so instead they went after them for getting rid of office data that was never seen by anyone outside of Halliburton. Bad on Haliburton, but to me evidence that DOJ is more interested in getting a guilty out of HAL at any cost than actually persuing justice. How much money was never paid out of that BP recovery fund? Much more than $200,000.

Re:$200.000 in fines (4, Insightful)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44390235)

Keep in mind this fine isn't for all of that. It's just for deleting a bunch of data. There are more fines to come.

That in itself is a criminal act that if you did it in a non-corporate trial would result in prison time, not a fine.

Re:$200.000 in fines (1)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | about a year ago | (#44391679)

Keep in mind this fine isn't for all of that. It's just for deleting a bunch of data. There are more fines to come.

That in itself is a criminal act that if you did it in a non-corporate trial would result in prison time, not a fine.

The problem is that they only fine corporations because there isn't any "one" to imprison. What would be a logical equivalence would be to to require corporations to give the govt a percentage ownership of stock in the company as a fine and the govt will dump the stock on the open market after the equivalent jail time has expired.

Re:$200.000 in fines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44391993)

The problem is that they only fine corporations because there isn't any "one" to imprison. What would be a logical equivalence would be to to require corporations to give the govt a percentage ownership of stock in the company as a fine and the govt will dump the stock on the open market after the equivalent jail time has expired.

Just revoke it's corporate charter. That was the way law breaking corporations were dealt until very recently. Now they're somehow immortal. Corporations should only exist to benefit the public good. Anything else is an abomination.

Re:$200.000 in fines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44392099)

Criminal investigations are just too hard. Especially when there is a conspiracy.

Re:$200.000 in fines (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about a year ago | (#44392671)

The problem is that they only fine corporations because there isn't any "one" to imprison

Yes there is. Probably more than one. Someone gave the order to perform an illegal activity. Someone followed the order to perform an illegal activity.

Listen, Halliburton being a corporation doesn't give them some sort of mystical disembodied super-power. It's a group of people. The same as a mafia gang, plumber's union, government, military troop, or book club. If someone in your book club decided to go murder their mother, you don't get thrown in jail. If the head of the plumbers union uses the union's funds, equipment, and contacts to gas a housing complex, and no-one else was in on it, then only he goes to jail. If the the general orders his troops to go on a raping spree, and they all do it, then they all go to jail. If the mafia boss orders Jimmie to hold a package and he doesn't know it's drugs, and you can't convince a jury that he knew it was drugs, then Jimmie walks free. The same as if your murderous book club member told you to hang onto this package until the next meeting. It's just easier to convince a jury when it's a criminal organization as opposed to a book club.

Sometimes everyone is guilty. Everyone knows that the group as a whole is violating a law. In that case, EVERYONE IS GUILTY. At least of being complicit or an accessory. This is why it's a crime to to not report a crime. This is why our troops are oath-bound to question orders.

Corporations aren't magic shields that stop criminal investigations. At least they're not supposed to be outside of a dystopian cyberpunk novel.

Someone did something illegal. Investigate and throw them in jail.

Re:$200.000 in fines (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44395963)

The problem is that they only fine corporations because there isn't any "one" to imprison

Yes there is. Probably more than one. Someone gave the order to perform an illegal activity. Someone followed the order to perform an illegal activity.

...If the the general orders his troops to go on a raping spree, and they all do it, then they all go to jail.

I beg to differ. What really happens is the incident is covered up and nobody goes to jail unless the press gets hold of the story and then there's a slight chance that a few of the lowest-level soldiers will go to jail.

Re:$200.000 in fines (1)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | about a year ago | (#44396311)

The problem is that they only fine corporations because there isn't any "one" to imprison

Yes there is. Probably more than one. Someone gave the order to perform an illegal activity. Someone followed the order to perform an illegal activity.

...If the the general orders his troops to go on a raping spree, and they all do it, then they all go to jail.

I beg to differ. What really happens is the incident is covered up and nobody goes to jail unless the press gets hold of the story and then there's a slight chance that a few of the lowest-level soldiers will go to jail.

Yeah... It always seems that they always find some scapegoat at the lowest-level who was "operating independently".
It would be nice if the "buck stops here" happens and after identifying the henchman who dunnit, they imprison all managers from him upwards including the CEO.

Re:$200.000 in fines (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44395937)

A corporation cannot break the law without individual human beings in that corporation breaking that law. Those people should go to prison. If the person who broke the law cannot be identified, jail everybody from VP on up and the board of directors.

Your proposed solution delays the punishment and the longer the sentence the more it is delayed. That means there will be no real punishment for serious crimes. I say make them pay now and pay big, up to and if necessary including the entire value of the company.

Re:$200.000 in fines (1)

drainbramage (588291) | about a year ago | (#44390413)

So, how much will those in the IRS have to pay for destroying evidence?
Sauce for the goose.

Re:$200.000 in fines (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44390421)

In all fairness, it's 200k in criminal penalties for destroying some evidence. They've added another $55 million towards the Fish and Wildlife Fund. $55,200,000 is still pretty small for Halliburton, but it's a lot more than just $200k. Also, there's been over $1.6 billion in criminal fines from BP and TransOcean so its not like the companies involved are getting away cheaply.

From what I've read, they recommended 21 centralizers, but BP chose to go with 6 instead since the simulation said there is little difference. BP is pointing at Halliburton saying that 6 should have been fine. Halliburton is pointing back saying they recommended 21. This sounds like BP is positioning to recover part of its fine from Hallliburton.

Re:$200.000 in fines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44390643)

In all fairness, it's 200k in criminal penalties for destroying some evidence. They've added another $55 million towards the Fish and Wildlife Fund. $55,200,000 is still pretty small for Halliburton, but it's a lot more than just $200k. Also, there's been over $1.6 billion in criminal fines from BP and TransOcean so its not like the companies involved are getting away cheaply.

From what I've read, they recommended 21 centralizers, but BP chose to go with 6 instead since the simulation said there is little difference. BP is pointing at Halliburton saying that 6 should have been fine. Halliburton is pointing back saying they recommended 21. This sounds like BP is positioning to recover part of its fine from Hallliburton.

Add another couple of zeros to that $55,200,000 and you are finally talking about amounts of money that Halliburton/BP is really going to feel. Under EU competition law, for example, you can be fined up to 30% of your annual sales profits for infractions. Using that basic approach lets fine Halliburton/BP and the rest a fixed percentage of their revenue until the mess is cleaned up. A paltry $55 million is an insult to the people who have to suffer the consequences of this disaster. In 2009 BP recorded a profit do $15 billion and Halliburton $18 billion, a 1,6 billion fine is still a joke. Plus if BP is the villain in this why is Halliburton destroying evidence?

Re:$200.000 in fines (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | about a year ago | (#44391097)

How about handing in one of those White House petitions about this issue and asking them what they are going to do about it. The answer should be interesting.

I think you haven't seen many of the answers to petitions that challenge the whims of the oligarchy. They sometimes run into tens, or even dozens of words, but boil down to, "No, because I said so."

can't the tests just be rerun? (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#44389319)

Did they throw out the simulation code as well?

Re:can't the tests just be rerun? (2)

coinreturn (617535) | about a year ago | (#44389903)

I'm sure the code has been modified by now to show "better" results. "Version control? Why would we want old inferior versions?"

Re:can't the tests just be rerun? (1)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#44391207)

That's not the point. They apparently were under orders to preserve materials in case they were needed as evidence, but deleted them.

It would be like destroying the original of an unfavorable contract you were trying to quash and then saying you couldn't find it. You might be able to reconstruct it, or print out a facsimile of it, but the problem was the obstruction of the court process rather than the actual destruction.

Re:can't the tests just be rerun? (2)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#44391263)

My bad. At the time of the destruction, they weren't yet under orders to preserve, but they were found to have destroyed it specifically so they couldn't have it used in court. That's still seen as obstructing justice.

However many of the headlines related to this are misleading in that they imply that Halliburton has plead guilty to being responsible for the disaster. You have to read farther into the article to see that they plead guilty to destroying computer simulations.

And let's remember, that it's BP that's trying to put the responsibility on Halliburton. "Broke Pipeline Inc" hardly has clean hands here regardless of what Halliburton has done.

Re:can't the tests just be rerun? (1)

jabuzz (182671) | about a year ago | (#44391469)

You don't destroy evidence like that if you have nothing to hide. No single party is likely to be entirely responsible for the disaster, and there has been some jingoistic sentiment in the USA that it was all the fault of the nasty foreign company. Something that is highly improbable.

It is not all Halliburton's fault, but it is also not all BP fault either.

Re:can't the tests just be rerun? (1)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#44392225)

The big international oil majors are so widely distributed that it's really misleading to think of them in terms of "foreign" or "domestic".

Just as BP might get some unwarranted scorn for being British, Halliburton gets it for being associated with Cheney. Neither is really the point, but who did what and when is.

As you say, there's plenty of blame to go around.

Re:can't the tests just be rerun? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44392863)

Of course you wipe the rest. Anyone in corporate America can tell you that. Otherwise you may as well plan on being in court for the next hundred years as half your employees are dragged into court for the company chat and e-mail messages they start firing back and forth. Case in point: Halliburton has something like a thousand cementers in their employment. I'm sure every single one of them has an opinion on what happened. So now the prosecution starts pulling e-mails in mass, and generating a case that the combined corporate "opinion" of your employees was such and such. Never mind that only 2 out of the 1000 were actually involved. If you can prove that a majority of the others have second-guessed the choices that were made, you're already halfway there for the jury to find you negligent. You preserve what the investigation asks for, and you reduce as much of the rest of the noise as possible. It may not be perfectly ethical, but in the modern US justice system, discovery knows few bounds, or time limits. The reality of crusading prosecutions means that you shred constantly, especially anything "unofficial". Like unused computer simulations that were no doubt run again after Macondo. This is data "destruction" only if the prosecution believes that math allows 10+20 to equal things other than 30 based on the date.

well fuck me! (5, Insightful)

thephydes (727739) | about a year ago | (#44389393)

If I pour crude oil into the ocean, destroy the livelyhoods of fishing communities and kill a few of people on an oil platform in a gas fire (and destroy some evidence), I'll get a couple of hundred $k fine. If I buy a gun and go out and shoot the same number of people (and survive the manhunt) I'll get the rest of my life being a jailhouse bitch. Now, I wonder which I would choose?? Haliburton, do you have any vacancies???

Re:well fuck me! (4, Funny)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#44390007)

If I pour crude oil into the ocean, destroy the livelyhoods of fishing communities and kill a few of people on an oil platform in a gas fire (and destroy some evidence), I'll get a couple of hundred $k fine. If I buy a gun and go out and shoot the same number of people (and survive the manhunt) I'll get the rest of my life being a jailhouse bitch. Now, I wonder which I would choose?? Haliburton, do you have any vacancies???

Dear phydes,

We're sorry, your previous experience as a mass-murder is impressive, but you do not meet the minimum evil standards required to work at Halliburton.

/s/ Dick Cheney

Re:well fuck me! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44390501)

If I pour crude oil into the ocean, destroy the livelyhoods of fishing communities and kill a few of people on an oil platform in a gas fire (and destroy some evidence), I'll get a couple of hundred $k fine. If I buy a gun and go out and shoot the same number of people (and survive the manhunt) I'll get the rest of my life being a jailhouse bitch. Now, I wonder which I would choose?? Haliburton, do you have any vacancies???

Oh no, it's much better than that. If you pour crude oil into the ocean etc etc, you will wind up going to jail, because you are just one man. But if you operate a corporation such that such an outcome is inevitable, then you will get a fat bonus and the corporation will get a small fine.

Fix the typo in the title already (3, Insightful)

CoolGopher (142933) | about a year ago | (#44389415)

Editor. I do not think that word means what you think it means...

200k? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44389509)

Companies should have minimum fines/panalties defined as percentages of their net worth.

And what of the Dick ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44389533)

Cheney that is . You know the guy who shot somebody in the face to shut him up .

Re:And what of the Dick ? (1)

Gonzoman (39290) | about a year ago | (#44390031)

"You know you're powerful when you shoot someone in the face, and he apologizes to you." -- Jon Stewart

Editors, check the spelling... (1)

Chiller (1883) | about a year ago | (#44389593)

Title says "Hallibuton" (no 'r'), article says "Halliburton" (correct spelling).

so... (3, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#44389643)

Halliburton perpetrates huge fraud on the government (in billions) and nothing is ever done.

They defraud another corporation, they're in trouble.

You see the pattern here? madoff is only in jail because he defrauded other rich people.

I hate that pathetic corporate fig leaf (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about a year ago | (#44389793)

"We're not admitting our obvious, willful, and blatant guilt, we're just settling to save our precious shareholders from all those nasty legal fees!"

BULLSHIT

Another sweetheart deal (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44390197)

Another sweetheart deal for a company which caused tens of billions in damages. This kind of stuff isn't going to stop until we either start arresting CEO's and employees and charging them with crimes, or enacting the corporate equivalent of a death sentence, confiscating their funds & property and putting it on the auction block when they are caught committing crimes or are responsible of gross negligence resulting in injury, death or economic loss.

TYPO IN HEADLINE (NT) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44391183)

TYPO IN HEADLINE (NT)

submitted by Anonymous Reader: (3, Informative)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#44391415)

My suspicious streak wonders if Anonymous Reader works in the BP PR department.

Ok, we're bringing up Halliburton, which is seen by some as the gold standard in corporate evil, but let's remember that it's BP (AKA Broke Pipeline Inc) that's the plaintiff in this case and are trying to shift the responsibility to Halliburton.

Given the stopping of preventive maintenance and replacing of experienced workers with cheaper ones that BP was widely known for, this is a bit of Pot Kettle Black.

Halliburton hasn't been tagged yet with overall responsibility for the spill as some headlines have claimed, but for destroying computer simulations done before the lawsuits started. That's bad, but it's not some get out of jail free card for BP. There's plenty of responsibility left to go around, and BP was the final word on that rig, not the contractors.

(Full disclosure: My brother worked for Arco before BP bought it. His division was spun off, but he heard quite a good deal about the bone stripping cost cutting that BP did after they bought it. That impacted repeated pipeline spills in Alaska and likely the Deepwater Horizon).

Re:submitted by Anonymous Reader: (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about a year ago | (#44396345)

Hahahah sorry to hear about your brother but that has given you a jaded view of how the industry works. Let me educate you. These companies don't DO anything. They buy, they own, and they subcontract. Halliburton is to blame for the cementing because BP doesn't do cementing and doesn't have the embedded knowledge of how to cement a well. What they have is lawyers which write up contracts and get other companies to do this for them.

This has been the trend for every major oil and gas company in the last 20 years. Outsource to experts. BP doesn't build, they don't maintain, and in many cases they don't even operate, they just pour in funds and take a cut of the profits. Say you are BP and you wanted to build a FCCU. Many years ago you may have designed it and farmed it to local construction crews and then maintained it. These days you get the lawyers to call UOP and licence the technology, you get the lawyers to call Jacobs and have them design it to suit your needs, you get the lawyers to call Downer EDI and have them build it, and maybe in 4 years you get the lawyers to call Downer EDI again or MAN Turbo or any of those companies to come and perform maintenance on it.

As for the cheaper worker comment, I'm amazed. In all my years working as an engineer I have still to earn more in a year than a trainee operator or an electrician at our local BP plant. I remember last time they had 5 job vacancies they had some 7000 applicants for that reason. If they are cheaping out then it must be very local to your area.

Ultimately the reason BP is at fault here is because their name is on the deed. As you said there's plenty of responsibility left to go around, but it's hard to take a comment saying they are trying to shift responsibility seriously when it's for something they didn't do, and don't know how to do (cement a well). Mind you Halliburton got off light, so far BP has paid more than 100x the amount they have and the court cases aren't even over yet.

Re:submitted by Anonymous Reader: (1)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#44397071)

Yes, I know the outsourcing trend. I also know people who work at the contractors. They'll do the job you pay them to do. When BP took over Arco's Alaska pipeline network, one of the things they didn't pay for was the same level of maintenance on the pipelines. And, surprise, they got corrosion and leaks.

If you keep telling them to go cheap they'll do a cheaper job. But, like BP has experienced, you get problems.

When you replace senior workers with younger workers you save money regardless of the base of the salary scale. That was the era of John Browne at the helm of BP. He was noted for extreme cost cutting.

And I'm not surprised there were so many applicants. When the economy is tight you get that. Just like you got it in the steel industry in the early 80s when things were tight. Inland just updated their resume and application files and had thousands in line and fights breaking out outside their Gary Indiana plant.

Right now for all the "recovery" the job market is still tight, and oil industry jobs tend to pay well. That doesn't mean that BP wasn't reducing the senior workers in 1999 when they took over Arco.

And, just for further disclosure, Arco Metals was spun off 9 years before the BP bought Arco and my brother went with that. So that didn't hit him, but he still maintained contacts with people back at Arco.

One reason for subcontracting is you can box off liability if you can show a subcontractor was at fault. You're seriously saying that BP isn't trying to transfer some of its liability to Halliburton (rightly or wrongly)?
 

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