Just recently, on August 6, 2010, Florida real estate company St. Joe Co. filed suit against oil field contractor, Halliburton. According to the allegations in the suit and announcements made by lead counsel for St. Joe Co., Halliburton bears full responsibility for the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Halliburton was the sole cementing contractor for the Macando well, which was attached to the Deepwater Horizon oil platform. That platform exploded, caught fire, and sank in April of this year.
St. Joe Co. is alleging a “substantial decline” in its real estate value since the April 20th incident. At least 70 percent of St. Joe Co.’s 577,000 acres in Florida are within 15 miles of the Gulf of Mexico coast. Lead counsel for St. Joe Co. stated, “We believe Halliburton’s participation in the cementing process, and the company’s willful disregard of important safety measures, make it liable for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the catastrophic damages that it caused.” The lawsuit goes on to allege failures “at every stage” of the cementing process, which caused the blowout that led to the April explosion.
Back in May, Halliburton CEO Tim Probert testified during congressional hearings regarding Halliburton’s cementing process on the Macando well. While he testified poorly and could not provide any details on the cementing process, he has since stated that he was confident that Halliburton workers were following the orders of BP (British Petroleum). Given BP’s track record regarding safety, and all the countless lives lost due to BP’s gross negligence in the past, I don’t think “we did what BP said to do” is a smart or viable defense.