t couldn’t have happened to a nicer company. Halliburton is scrambling the corporate lawyers and PR flaks to handle the fallout even as I write this.

The commission investigating who and what was to blame for the worst oil spill disaster in US history released its first report this week. The culprit: Halliburton’s faulty cement job.

According to Halliburton’s own records, the cement that was eventually poured down the Macondo oil well in the Gulf of Mexico had failed three separate tests to determine if it met industry standards. Remember: that’s “industry standards,” not government standards because, well, there were no government standards in force at that time. In that kind of “anything goes” environment, “industry standards” aren’t worth much, either. Yet Halliburton’s product failed even that low bar.

On March 8th, Halliburton communicated the dismal results of one of these tests to BP, which did nothing in response. After tinkering with the test, Halliburton finally got a passing grade for its cement, but never told BP about it.

So when BP engineers gave the go-ahead to pour the Halliburton mixture into the well, it was with the full knowledge that they were using a faulty product.

And, as Halliburton spokesman Thomas Roth has said, that same cement has been used in over 1,000 other wells around the world.

Makes you gasp, doesn’t it?

The commission has conducted its own tests on Halliburton cement. Out of nine separate tests, the cement failed nine times. Halliburton PR people complained that the commission didn’t use the right cement mixture, but the samples tested by the commission were supplied to it by Halliburton in the wake of the accident. Now Halliburton’s got two problems: they’re not only responsible for using a faulty product on the Macondo oil well, but they’re also completely incompetent.

Or else they’re lying.

And it’s now clear that the only test Halliburton’s cement has ever passed is the quick profits test.