BP Executive 'Not Guilty' on Deepwater Horizon Charges

David Rainey

Published Jun 5, 2015 4:46 PM by The Maritime Executive

A US federal jury has acquitted former BP executive David Rainey on charges of lying to investigators in connection with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Defense attorney Reid Weingarten expressed satisfaction over the court’s decision, stating that he was not surprised since evidence favored his client. Weingarten had previously commented that charges should never have been brought against Rainey and that prosecutors failed to offer the court a convincing reason why the executive would lie to investigators.

The court alleged that Rainey, former vice president of exploration in the Gulf, willfully made a fraudulent statement to federal law enforcement agents regarding the amount of oil spilled in the BP disaster.

On May 24, 2010, Rainey sent a 5,000-barrel-a-day estimate to Congress, terming it BP's "best scientific guess" at the flow rate. A group of government and independent scientists later concluded that more than 60,000 barrels per day were leaking into the Gulf during the relevant time, the Department of Justice said.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt dismissed a separate charge that Rainey obstructed a congressional inquiry.

Days after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded 50 miles (80 km) off Louisiana's coast, BP said about 1,000 barrels of oil per day were flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. A week later, a government scientist estimated the flow at nearly 5,000 barrels, but said he could not vouch for the accuracy of that figure.

BP well site managers Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine still face manslaughter charges in connection with the 11 people who died when the Deep Water Horizon rig exploded. The court alleges that the leaders ignored indications that the well was not secure.

BP agreed to pay $4.5 billion in fines and other penalties and pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to the spill. It is also facing up to $13.7 billion in penalties under the Clean Water Act.