Former BP engineer Kurt Mix, 50, is the first individual charged in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Justice Department said Tuesday. Mix was arrested on Tuesday and charged with two counts of obstruction of justice in a criminal complaint unsealed today.
Authorities allege that Mix learned that a vendor working for BP’s lawyers was collecting electronic files and deleted a series of over 200 text messages on his iPhone that he exchanged with a BP supervisor. Authorities later recovered some of the texts forensically, and some of the messages indicated that BP’s “Top Kill” operation was failing.
DOJ alleges that Mix deleted a text he sent on May 26, 2010 at the end of the first day of the “Top Kill” operation.
“Too much flowrate — over 15,000 and too large an orific. Pumped over 12,800 bbl of mud today plus 5 separate bridging pills,” Mix allegedly wrote in the text message he later deleted. “Tired. Going home and getting ready for round three tomorrow.”
From a DOJ press release:
Before Top Kill commenced, Mix and other engineers had concluded internally that Top Kill was unlikely to succeed if the flow rate was greater than 15,000 barrels of oil per day (BOPD). At the time, BP’s public estimate of the flow rate was 5,000 BOPD - three times lower than the minimum flow rate indicated in Mix’s text.
Later, around Aug. 19, 2011, Mix allegedly deleted a sting of messages he exchanged with a BP contractor after he had received “numerous legal hold notices requiring him to preserve such data and had been communicating with a criminal defense lawyer in connection with the pending grand jury investigation of the Deepwater Horizon disaster,” according to the feds.