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

People & Company News

NSRP Risk Management Panel and SCA Joint Meeting

The National Shipbuilding Research Program (NSRP) Risk Management Panel will be meeting jointly with the Shipbuilders Council of America (SCA) November 5-6, 2014 in Virginia Beach, Va.

WEG to Showcase Drive Solutions at SMM

WEG, a global supplier of drive systems, will showcase its range of systems for the shipbuilding and offshore industry at this year’s SMM (Shipbuilding, Machinery & Marine Technology Fair) in Hamburg.

Kirby Reports Record Q2 2014

Record 2014 second quarter earnings per share of $1.31 compared with $1.11 in the 2013 second quarter, which included a $0.07 benefit due to the reduction of the United earnout liability.

Environmental

BMT ARGOSS Awarded OHSAS 18001

BMT ARGOSS, an operating company of BMT Group Ltd. has been awarded the universally recognized standard for occupational health and safety, BS OHSAS 18001. BMT ARGOSS,

Quality hat-trick for GAC Marine Logistics

Global ship spares logistics provider GAC Marine Logistics Inc. (GML) has secured ISO certifications in recognition of its Quality Management, Environmental

BMT Oceanica Wins Major Water Corporation Bid

Marine and coastal environment specialist, BMT Oceanica (BMT), a subsidiary of BMT Group Ltd, is delighted to announce that it has won the bid to provide Ocean

Energy

US DOE Approves Oregon LNG Export Project

The U.S. Energy Department said on Thursday it has approved Oregon LNG to export liquefied natural gas, as the Obama administration works through applications to

Kurdistan Says Crude Cargo Near Texas Legally Sold

A $100 million cargo of crude oil in a tanker near Texas was legally shipped and sold by Kurdistan, lawyers for the autonomous region in Iraq told a U.S. court in a letter seen on Thursday,

Kirby Reports Record Q2 2014

Record 2014 second quarter earnings per share of $1.31 compared with $1.11 in the 2013 second quarter, which included a $0.07 benefit due to the reduction of the United earnout liability.

News

NSRP Risk Management Panel and SCA Joint Meeting

The National Shipbuilding Research Program (NSRP) Risk Management Panel will be meeting jointly with the Shipbuilders Council of America (SCA) November 5-6, 2014 in Virginia Beach, Va.

US DOE Approves Oregon LNG Export Project

The U.S. Energy Department said on Thursday it has approved Oregon LNG to export liquefied natural gas, as the Obama administration works through applications to

CFOA Schedules Annual Conference

The 2014 Canadian Ferry Operators Association (CFOA) annual AGM & Conference is scheduled to take place September 29-30 in Quebec City. The two-day conference

People in the News

Former MSC Manager Sentenced on Bribes Charges

Former Afloat Programs Manager at the United States Navy Military Sealift Command (MSC), Kenny E. Toy, was sentenced to 96 months in prison for receiving bribes, the U.

Vale Profit Falls Amidst Record Output

Brazilian miner Vale SA posted a sharp decline in profit from the previous quarter as lower iron ore prices undermined record production of the steel-making ingredient.

FERC Approves Freeport LNG Export Project

U.S. federal regulators on Wednesday approved construction of Freeport LNG Development LP's liquefied natural gas export project in Texas. Freeport is the third U.

Offshore Energy

BMT ARGOSS Awarded OHSAS 18001

BMT ARGOSS, an operating company of BMT Group Ltd. has been awarded the universally recognized standard for occupational health and safety, BS OHSAS 18001. BMT ARGOSS,

Refurbished Seajacks Vessels Leave Shipdock Amsterdam

Seajacks Leviathan and Seajacks Kraken are prepared for their coming assignments, following a series of repair and renewal jobs by Shipdock Amsterdam. The shipyard,

Kurdish Crude Lightered, Destination Unknown

Part of a Kurdish oil cargo has been offloaded from a Greek-managed tanker into another tanker in the South China Sea, but mystery surrounds the identity of the

 
 
Maritime Security Maritime Standards Offshore Oil Pipelines Port Authority Salvage Ship Repair 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: 0.2025 sec (5 req/sec)