Judge: BP contract shielded Halliburton in spill

By The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that Halliburton, the Houston-based company that supplied cement for the ill-fated Macondo well that blew in the Gulf of Mexico, may not have to pay many of the pollution claims that resulted from the catastrophic spill because it was shielded in a contract with well-owner BP.

Still, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said Tuesday that Halliburton is not exempt from paying punitive damages and civil penalties that arise from the April 20, 2010, blowout off the Louisiana coast. Those penalties could amount to billions of dollars.

The judge also said Halliburton’s indemnity could be voided if the company is found to have defrauded BP. He did not rule on BP’s allegations that Halliburton committed fraud by declaring the cement safe to use.