Former BP Engineer Convicted for Obstruction of Justice

Posted by Michelle Howard
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Kurt Mix (Photo: Jonathan Bachman/AP)

Kurt Mix, a former engineer for BP plc, was convicted today of intentionally destroying evidence requested by federal criminal authorities investigating the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Anderson of the FBI’s New Orleans Division made the announcement after the verdict was announced by U.S. District Judge Stanwood R. Duval Jr.

Mix, 52, of Katy, Texas, was convicted by a federal jury in the Eastern District of Louisiana of one count of obstruction of justice and was acquitted on a second count of obstruction of justice.   He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on March 26, 2014.

“Today a jury in New Orleans found that Kurt Mix purposefully obstructed the efforts of law enforcement during the investigation of the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman.   “This prosecution shows the commitment of the Justice Department to hold accountable those who attempt to interfere with the administration of justice.  I want to thank the committed prosecutors and agents who have worked tirelessly over so many years on the Deepwater Horizon Task Force for their dedication and tenacity.”

According to court documents and evidence at trial, on April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon rig experienced an uncontrolled blowout and related explosions while closing the Macondo well.  The catastrophe killed 11 men on board and resulted in the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history.

Mix was a drilling and completions project engineer for BP.  Following the blowout, Mix worked on internal BP efforts to estimate the amount of oil leaking from the well and was involved in various efforts to stop the leak.  Those efforts included Top Kill, the failed BP effort to pump heavy mud into the blown-out wellhead to try to stop the oil flow.  BP sent numerous notices to Mix requiring him to retain all information concerning Macondo, including his text messages.

On or about Oct. 4, 2010, after Mix learned that his electronic files were to be collected by a vendor working for BP’s lawyers, Mix deleted on his iPhone a text string containing more than 300 text messages with his BP supervisor.  The deleted messages included a text sent on the evening of May 26, 2010, at the end of the first day of Top Kill.  In the text, Mix stated, among other things, “Too much flowrate – over 15,000.”  Before Top Kill commenced, Mix and other engineers had concluded internally that Top Kill was unlikely to succeed if the flow rate was greater than 15,000 barrels of oil per day (BOPD).  At the time, BP’s public estimate of the flow rate was 5,000 BOPD – three times lower than the minimum flow rate indicated in Mix’s text.

By the time Mix deleted these texts, he had received numerous legal hold notices requiring him to preserve such data and had been put on notice of the Department of Justice’s criminal investigation of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The Deepwater Horizon Task Force, based in New Orleans, is supervised by Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman and led by William Pericak, a deputy chief in the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section who serves as the director of the task force.  The task force includes prosecutors from the Criminal Division and the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana and other U.S. Attorney’s Offices, and investigating agents from the FBI, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Interior, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal law enforcement agencies.  The task force’s investigation of this and other matters concerning the Deepwater Horizon disaster is ongoing.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Jennifer L. Saulino and Trial Attorney Leo R. Tsao of the Fraud Section.

Maritime Today


The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

Maritime Reporter June 2016 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

“Twiggy” Baker Wins BWT Puerto Escondido Challenge

Grant “Twiggy” Baker (ZAF) claimed victory today at the Puerto Escondido Challenge, besting a field of 24 of the world’s best big wave surfers in towering 20-to-35

Winners of International Seafarers' Welfare Awards

The winners of ISWAN's International Seafarers' Welfare Awards 2016 were announced on 24th June at a high-profile ceremony held in Manila, the Philippines. The

Maritime Needs More Women Power

United Nations  International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary- General Ki Tack Lim pushed for the increased involvement of women in the seafaring industry

Legal

Winners of International Seafarers' Welfare Awards

The winners of ISWAN's International Seafarers' Welfare Awards 2016 were announced on 24th June at a high-profile ceremony held in Manila, the Philippines. The

Traffic Separation Schemes off Western Australia

On 1 December 2016 two new Traffic Separation Schemes (TSS) will come into effect off the south-west coast of Western Australia. Australia’s proposal to establish

Berthing Policy for Dry Bulk Cargo for Indian Ports Unveiled

Ministry of Shipping has formulated a new Berthing Policy for Dry Bulk Cargo for all Major Ports which will come into effect from 20th August, 2016. The objective

Environmental

MISC Publishes its 2015 Sustainability Report

MISC Berhad (MISC) today announces the publication of its 2015 Sustainability Report, covering the Company’s commitment, strategy and performance for the year ended

Admiral of the Ocean Sea Award Recipients Named

The United Seamen's Service (USS) 2016 Admiral of the Ocean Sea Awards (AOTOS) will be presented to Arthur E. Imperatore, Founder and President of New York Waterways; Donald Marcus,

Orca Energy ESS to Power Fish Farm Support Vessel

Grovfjord Mek. Verksted AS (GMV) has selected Corvus Energy as the supplier of the lithium ion based energy storage system (ESS) for a fish farm support vessel called GMV ZERO.

News

“Twiggy” Baker Wins BWT Puerto Escondido Challenge

Grant “Twiggy” Baker (ZAF) claimed victory today at the Puerto Escondido Challenge, besting a field of 24 of the world’s best big wave surfers in towering 20-to-35

Winners of International Seafarers' Welfare Awards

The winners of ISWAN's International Seafarers' Welfare Awards 2016 were announced on 24th June at a high-profile ceremony held in Manila, the Philippines. The

Blue Angels Resume Schedule

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will return to its 2016 demonstration schedule July 2-4 in Traverse City, Mich., Commander, Naval Air Forces announced. The Blue Angels temporarily stood down,

People in the News

“Twiggy” Baker Wins BWT Puerto Escondido Challenge

Grant “Twiggy” Baker (ZAF) claimed victory today at the Puerto Escondido Challenge, besting a field of 24 of the world’s best big wave surfers in towering 20-to-35

Winners of International Seafarers' Welfare Awards

The winners of ISWAN's International Seafarers' Welfare Awards 2016 were announced on 24th June at a high-profile ceremony held in Manila, the Philippines. The

Blue Angels Resume Schedule

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will return to its 2016 demonstration schedule July 2-4 in Traverse City, Mich., Commander, Naval Air Forces announced. The Blue Angels temporarily stood down,

Offshore Energy

POSH Bags Shell FLNG Contract

Singapore’s offshore marine services provider PACC Offshore Services Holdings Ltd. (POSH) has been awarded a contract to support Shell’s Prelude floating liquefied

US Oil Drillers Cut Rigs after 3 Weeks of Additions

U.S. oil drillers cut rigs this week for a 20th week this year after three weeks of additions, according to a closely followed report on Friday, as crude prices

Ulstein Delivers for BS Offshore

The first of two service operation vessels (SOV) ordered in 2015 by Bernhard Schulte Offshore (BS Offshore) and its client Siemens from Ulstein Verft in is now completed,

 
 
Maritime Contracts Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Pipelines Pod Propulsion Salvage Ship Repair Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1427 sec (7 req/sec)