Former BP (NYSE:BP) senior engineer Kurt Mix has been accused of deliberately destroying evidence related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Mix was accused of two counts obstruction of justice for deleting text messages and voice mails related to the flow rate of oil spilling into the gulf between April and July 2010.
The issue, ostensibly, is this: Kurt Mix was one of the engineers involved in an operation called top kill, which was an attempt to cap the well made at the end of May. The operation involved pumping fluids, mud, and waste materials into the broken well in an attempt to block it up and stop the leak. The top kill operation only had a chance of succeeding if the flow rate was below a certain threshold, but at the time it appeared as if there was no clear idea of how fast oil was actually gushing out of the well.
That threshold was 15,000 barrels per day, well above the 1,000 to 5,000 bpd estimate that BP initially made public. However, the actual flow rate was much higher — up to 62,000 bpd — and Mix knew this, stating as much in one of the text messages that was deleted and subsequently recovered by federal prosecutors.