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Engineer faces first Deepwater Horizon criminal charges

Oilfield Technology,

Kurt Mix, a former BP engineer, has become the first person to face criminal charges as a result of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. Mix was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice in relation to his alleged deletion of over 200 text messages, between himself and a BP supervisor that had been requested as evidence by federal investigative authorities.

US Attorney General Holder, said “The Department (of Justice) has filed initial charges in its investigation into the Deepwater Horizon disaster against an individual for allegedly deleting records relating to the amount of oil flowing from the Macondo well after the explosion that led to the devastating tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Mix was employed as a drilling and completions project engineer for BP, and worked on BP’s attempts to estimate the amount of oil being leaked as well as several attempts to stem the leak, including operation Top Kill.

The texts in question included information that was collected in real time about the failure of operation Top Kill. Particularly incriminating is the fact that BP sent repeated notices to Mix requesting that he retain all information relating to the spill, including his text messages. 

It is also alleged in court documents that Mix deleted texts including remarks such as, “Too much flowrate – over 15,000” which was sent on the day that Top Kill began. The relevance being that it had already been agreed internally by BP engineers before Top Kill began that the operation was not likely to be successful if the flow rate exceeded 15 000 bpd. Despite knowledge of this vastly increased flow rate, BP’s official estimate remained only 5000 bpd, suggesting an inaccurately high likelihood that Top Kill might still be successful.

If found guilty, Mix could face anything up to 20 years in prison and a fine of US$ 250 000 for each of the two charges.




Edited from various sources by David Bizley

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