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US prepares to charge BP, Transocean, Halliburton

15 Sep 2011, 3.40 pm GMT

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Washington, 15 September (Argus) — US offshore regulators as early as next week will send notices of violation — which would precede civil fines — to oil major BP, offshore driller Transocean and oil field service company Halliburton following an investigation into last year's Macondo oil spill in the US Gulf of Mexico.

A district office of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) is developing the proposed notices of violations, director Michael Bromwich said on the sidelines of a congressional hearing today.

“They should be out promptly,” he said.

A joint investigation by BOEMRE and the US Coast Guard found that Macondo well operator BP violated seven federal regulations preceding a 20 April 2010 oil spill off the coast of Louisiana. Transocean, the operator of the well's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, violated three regulations, as did cement contractor Halliburton.

The so-called incident of non-compliance notices that BOEMRE will send to the companies may include civil penalties. Bromwich declined to give specifics of the penalties, but said fines would be capped at $40,000/d. The well released around 5mn bl of oil over 87 days.

Spokespersons for BP, Transocean and Halliburton were not immediately available for comment.

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