Press Release

Helmerich & Payne International Drilling Company Sentenced to $6.4 Million Criminal Penalty for False Writings Related to Well Control Testing


HELMERICH & PAYNE INTERNATIONAL DRILLING COMPANY (“H&PIDC”), a corporation headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, pleaded guilty today before the Honorable Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan to one count of violating Title 18, United States Code, Section 1018 which charged the drilling company with knowingly making and delivering false writings in connection with the company’s drilling activities in Gulf of Mexico. Pursuant to a plea agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana, H&PIDC was sentenced today to pay a total monetary penalty of $6.4 million and placed on a three year term of probation during which it must institute and comply with an environmental compliance plan that incorporates increased well control monitoring and enhanced training for all their offshore drilling rig employees.

According to the court documents, from on or about October 14, 2009 until on or about May 27, 2010, H&PIDC owned and operated drilling Rig 206. Rig 206 was contracted by the lessee of a federal mineral lease to conduct oil drilling operations on MC 109 in the Gulf of Mexico. As mandated by federal regulation, Rig 206 was equipped with a safety device known as a blowout preventer system designed to ensure well control and prevent potential release of oil and gas and possible loss of well control. The blowout preventer system consisted of multiple components including a blowout preventer, choke and kill lines, and a choke manifold. The choke manifold was an arrangement of piping and valves designed to direct flow and control pressure from the well. As mandated by federal regulation, the blowout preventer system must be routinely pressure tested, and the entire system must pass the pressure test prior to continuing drilling operations. The requirements for testing the blowout preventer system include conducting pressure tests of the choke manifold valves.


The case was investigated by the Department of Interior-Office of Inspector General. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Emily K. Greenfield. The U. S. Attorney’s Office would also like to acknowledge the assistance provided by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s New Orleans District.

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