A Helmerich & Payne Inc. subsidiary has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of falsifying choke manifold tests in 2010, the Tulsa-based company disclosed Wednesday in a regulatory filing.
Helmerich & Payne International Drilling Co. has been the subject of a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into choke manifold testing irregularities in 2010 at one of its offshore drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. There were no spills or discharges as a result of the irregularities.
The contract drilling company will pay a $5.4 million monetary criminal penalty and an additional $1 million to the National Academy of Sciences if a federal judge in New Orleans accepts its plea. It also will be on probation for three years.
The company expects to appear in court within the next two weeks to seek the judge's approval of its plea agreement with prosecutors.
As part of the deal, authorities have agreed not to pursue any other charges against Helmerich & Payne or its employees arising out of the testing falsifications.
The agreement recognizes Helmerich & Payne's prompt internal investigation and voluntarily reporting the falsified tests to federal regulators. The company also cooperated with Department of Justice investigators.
The company ended up firing four Helmerich & Payne International Drilling Co. employees involved in misconduct, according to Wednesday's filing. The employee who ultimately reported the misconduct was demoted.
Former Helmerich & Payne rig manager Donald Hudson, who was fired in June 2010, was convicted last year of lying to a federal agent.
He was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to perform 120 hours of community service.