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 Reporter August 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

TOTE, Saltchuk Secure Financing for Marlin Class Vessels

Maritime Administration to Provide Title XI Loan Guarantee for World’s First LNG Containerships Today, the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) announced a $324.

Transocean: Fleet Update Summary

Transocean Ltd. today issued a monthly fleet update summary which includes new contracts, changes to existing contracts, and changes in estimated planned out-of-service

Barczak Joins Alan C. McClure Associates

Naval architecture and engineering firm Alan C. McClure Associates (ACMA) announced today that Registered Professional Engineer Nicholas Barczakhas joined the ACMA team as a naval architect.

Legal

Australia, New Zealand Navies Intercepts Drugs off Africa

A combined Australian and New Zealand operation 260 km off the coast of Africa has seized more than 5.6 metric tons of cannabis resin worth an estimated $280 million (AUD).

Nigerian Oil Workers Call Off Strike After Talks with Government

Nigerian oil workers' unions have called off a four-day strike after reaching a deal with the government in a dispute over pensions, they said on Saturday. A

Nigerian Minister Pledges $1.3 bln for Power Companies

Nigeria's oil minister announced a 213 billion naira (1.3 billion US dollar) bail-out package for power companies on Saturday, nearly a year after the sector was privatised.

Environmental

TOTE, Saltchuk Secure Financing for Marlin Class Vessels

Maritime Administration to Provide Title XI Loan Guarantee for World’s First LNG Containerships Today, the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) announced a $324.

Maersk CEO Appointed to UN Advisory

Morten Engelstoft, CEO of Services and Other Shipping, said CO2 issues will be on his agenda as a newly appointed member of a UN High-level Advisory Group for Sustainable Transport.

San Francisco Bay Fuel Spill Under Investigation

The U.S. Coast Guard and California Department of Fish and Wildlife personnel continue to respond to a fuel spill that occurred near Pier 45 at Fishman's Wharf in the San Francisco Bay Saturday.

Energy

Deep Sea Mooring Wins Contract with Repsol

Global energy company Repsol has selected Deep Sea Mooring (DSM) to provide a range of mooring services for their drilling operations on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

Statoil: New Compressor Means Heightened Production

The new compressor in operation on the Kvitebjørn field in the North Sea from 17 September will increase production there by 220 million barrels of oil equivalent

China's Navy Enters Strait of Hormuz

Bandar Abbas, home of Iran's navy and the main port in the strategically important Strait of Hormuz, is currently hosting two Chinese naval vessels on a five-day goodwill visit,

News

TOTE, Saltchuk Secure Financing for Marlin Class Vessels

Maritime Administration to Provide Title XI Loan Guarantee for World’s First LNG Containerships Today, the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) announced a $324.

Transocean: Fleet Update Summary

Transocean Ltd. today issued a monthly fleet update summary which includes new contracts, changes to existing contracts, and changes in estimated planned out-of-service

Navantia Orders Sedni IAS for PEMEX Flotel

Sedni secures an important contract with Navantia to supply its Automation System (IAS) Diamar for the flotel vessel (BAP) which is being built at Ferrol factory for PEMEX owner.

People in the News

TOTE Receives $324.6m Title XI Loan Guarantee

New vessels will create jobs, increase amount of cargo moved between Florida and Puerto Rico U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced the approval of a $324.

Maersk CEO Appointed to UN Advisory

Morten Engelstoft, CEO of Services and Other Shipping, said CO2 issues will be on his agenda as a newly appointed member of a UN High-level Advisory Group for Sustainable Transport.

McAllister Towing Celebrates 150 in Style

McAllister Towing hosted a dual celebration in New York City on Friday, September 19, a gala in honor of the company’s 150th anniversary and a traditional christening of the Buckley McAllister,

Offshore Energy

Transocean: Fleet Update Summary

Transocean Ltd. today issued a monthly fleet update summary which includes new contracts, changes to existing contracts, and changes in estimated planned out-of-service

Navantia Orders Sedni IAS for PEMEX Flotel

Sedni secures an important contract with Navantia to supply its Automation System (IAS) Diamar for the flotel vessel (BAP) which is being built at Ferrol factory for PEMEX owner.

Maritime Reporter @ 75: The Daily Cartoon

Maritime Reporter & Engineering News was founded by John J. O'Malley (1905-1980) in 1939, and today ranks as the world's largest audited trade publication in the world serving the maritime industry,

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Standards Navigation Pipelines Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Electronics Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | 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: 0.2610 sec (4 req/sec)