In a high-stakes court filing, BP has accused Halliburton of destroying evidence that could be used to show it was partially to blame for the notorious Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
In evidence filed in a New Orleans federal court, BP claims that Halliburton damaged evidence about the quality of the cement slurry that it provided for the oil well that blew out last year and caused the disastrous spill. An oil well must be cemented properly to avoid blowouts.
In a court filing on Monday, BP accused Halliburton employees doing an internal investigation of the Macondo disaster of discarding and destroying early test results they performed on the same batch of cement slurry used in the Macondo well.
BP said Halliburton's chief cement mixer for Gulf projects testified in depositions that the cement slurry seemed "thin" to him, but that he chose not to write about his findings to his bosses out of fear he would be misinterpreted.
BP asked US District Judge Carl Barbier to penalise Halliburton and order a court-sponsored computer forensic team to recover some of the missing evidence. Halliburton said that the accusations were untrue.
The allegations in the 310-page motion ratcheted up the showdown among BP and contractors Halliburton and Transocean. The three companies have been sparring over blame for the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon blast, which killed 11 workers and led to the release of 206 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. So far, BP, the majority owner of the Macondo well, has footed the bill for the emergency response and clean-up.
The first trial over the Deepwater Horizon disaster is scheduled to start on 27 February in New Orleans.