By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) - BP Plc accused Halliburton Co of destroying evidence that the oilfield services company did inadequate cement work on the Gulf of Mexico oil well that blew out last year, and asked a federal judge to punish Halliburton.
The accusation, in a BP court filing, raises the stakes ahead of a trial, expected in late February, to assign blame and damages for the April 2010 blowout of the Macondo well, which triggered the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
Halliburton did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Houston-based company is the world's second-largest oilfield services provider.
Citing recent depositions and Halliburton's own documents, BP said Halliburton "intentionally" destroyed the results of slurry testing for the well, in part to "eliminate any risk that this evidence would be used against it at trial."
The oil company also said Halliburton appeared to have lost computer evidence showing how the cement performed, with Halliburton maintaining that the information is simply "gone."
BP asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans, who oversees spill litigation, to sanction Halliburton by ruling that Halliburton's slurry design was "unstable," a finding of fact that could be used at trial.