Judge releases Halliburton cement to investigators

By Reuters
Posted Oct. 29, 2010 at 3:09 p.m.

A New Orleans federal judge overseeing litigation on the Deepwater Horizon drilling disaster signed an order to release materials Halliburton used in the cementing job on BP’s blown-out Macondo well to federal investigators.

The order came a day after a government panel said Halliburton had used flawed material to cement the well.

Halliburton was hired by BP to seal the Gulf of Mexico well, which ruptured on April 20, killing 11 workers who were on the Transocean Ltd rig contracted to drill it. The disaster caused the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.

The judge had previously ordered the material preserved for his cases, but now is being advised by Halliburton that the cementing materials may be deteriorating.

“No destructive testing on the cementing components will be conducted without further order of the court,” Judge Carl Barbier wrote in his October 27 order, released on Friday.

Halliburton “will comply immediately” with the judge’s order, Cathy Mann, a Halliburton spokeswoman said in a statement.

A White House panel investigating the cause of the well blowout criticized Halliburton’s cement job in a letter and report released on Thursday, saying the company knew the material was unstable.

The panel’s report unleashed a wave of investor worry that Halliburton might be liable for costs related to the disaster and sent its shares down as much as 16 percent on Thursday. On Friday afternoon, the shares were up 9 cents or 0.3 percent at $31.77.

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