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Updated: September 5, 2011 23:14 IST

Halliburton counter-sues BP over damaged oil well

Narayan Lakshman
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A Brown Pelican drenched in oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill.
A Brown Pelican drenched in oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill.

More than one year after the worst oil spill in the United States' history, the parties held responsible for leaking nearly 5 million barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico are still embroiled in a litigious slugfest.

With nasty exchanges and blame-trading continuing unabated between the global corporations involved in the well's operation and construction, the latest legal blow was delivered this week by Halliburton Company, which has slammed BP, the well's owner, with a lawsuit over “for negligent misrepresentation, business disparagement and defamation”.

In a statement Halliburton, whose past CEOs include the former U.S. Vice-President, Dick Cheney, said in addition to these charges it would also amend its claims against BP in earlier litigation to include fraud allegation.

Specifically, Halliburton officials said its complaint was based on BP supplying it with “inaccurate information prior to performing cementing services on April 19, 2010, and BP's use of and omission of that information in subsequent public statements, filings and governmental investigations.”

BP hit back almost immediately arguing that the “lawsuit is the latest attempt by Halliburton to divert attention from its role in the Deepwater Horizon incident and its failure to meet its responsibilities, and to deflect all blame to BP.”

BP, which set up a $20-billion fund to finance the clean-up and reconstruction of the Gulf coastline following the massive spill last summer, rejected Halliburton's claims pointing out that investigations published so far had “concluded that multiple parties contributed to the incident, including Halliburton... [and they had] identified serious problems with the cementing of the well as a potential contributory factor to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.”

Taking another dig at the Halliburton lawsuit, BP said in a statement while it had accepted responsibility for responding to the spill and was accordingly paying costs and compensation, in contrast “Halliburton has refused to accept any responsibility or accountability”.

The unprecedented environmental damage suffered by the Gulf of Mexico last year occurred after the BP-owned Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers.

A slew of legal cases followed, including one by the U.S. Department of Justice against BP and others by BP against Halliburton and several drilling companies, in a bid to hold all parties concerned responsible for their share of the costs.

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