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BP oil spill disaster report paves way for bitter legal battle

Rowena Matson and Richard Blackden, The Telegraph
The company accepts some blame but also firmly points a finger at Transocean and Halliburton, which operated the Deepwater Horizon rig with BP. The rig exploded on April 20 killing 11 and injuring 17. Transocean and Halliburton attacked BP’s report, labelling it “self-serving” and “inaccurate”.

Written by Mark Bly, BP’s head of safety, the report argues that the key cause of the accident was probably a “bad cement job” by Halliburton.

It also criticised Transocean for failing to recognise the signs of oil and gas bursting into the well and from the well into the pipe to the rig.
Mr Bly acknowledged that BP staff were responsible for failing to spot the signs of excess pressure and explaining away warnings.
But the report also argued forcefully that BP’s heavily-criticised well design had nothing to do with the accident.

Tony Hayward, BP’s outgoing chief executive pilloried in the US for his handling of the disaster, said: “The investigation report provides critical new information on the causes of this terrible accident.

“It is evident that a series of complex events, rather than a single mistake or failure, led to the tragedy. Multiple parties, including BP, Halliburton and Transocean, were involved.”

All three parties are scrambling to avoid any potential charges of gross negligence and have already been hit with hundreds of lawsuits related to the spill.
(9 September 2010)
The link to the report is here.

BP Spill Report Hints at Legal Defense

Ian Urbina, The New York Times
BP spent months this summer trying to contain the gusher of oil on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. Now the company is trying to contain the legal and financial fallout from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, and on Wednesday it released the results of an internal investigation that mostly pointed fingers at other companies.

Conducted by the company’s safety chief, Mark Bly, and a team of about 50 made up mostly of BP employees, the inquiry was initiated almost immediately after the April 20 explosion that killed 11 and spilled almost five million barrels of oil into the ocean.

The 193-page report is part mea culpa, part public relations exercise, but mostly a preview of BP’s legal argument as it prepares to defend itself against possible criminal or civil charges, federal penalties and hundreds of pending lawsuits.

The report deflects attention from BP and onto its contractors, especially Transocean, which owned the rig, and Halliburton, which performed cement jobs on the well. It also focuses less on decisions that BP made in designing and drilling the well than on what rig workers, from Transocean and Halliburton, did in the hours leading up to the blowout.

While it provides some new details about what occurred on April 20, the report is by no means definitive. Many questions remain, including why the blowout preventer failed, who within BP was responsible for key decisions and why more tests were not taken of the cement that should have blocked gas from leaking upward.

Though the report faults BP for its role in some smaller decisions that led to the explosion, it highlights as most important eight findings of fault, only one of which places blame on BP. That finding says that BP shared blame with Transocean for having misread pressure tests that foreshadowed the explosion…
(8 September 2010)

BP oil spill report: the Deepwater Horizon blame game

Damian Carrington, The Guardian
Here’s my take on the blame game: who the BP report on the Deepwater oil spill points the finger at for the astonishing catalogue of errors and failures that caused the Deepwater disaster. BP owned the well lease. Transocean were contracted by BP and operated the rig and blow out preventer – they have already condemned the BP report as “self-serving”. Halliburton did the cementing, but has not yet responded in detail to BP’s report.

The eight big things that went wrong are, engineers tell me, a logical and plausible explanation. But who’s fault were they, according to BP?

My explanations are below, but to cut to the chase, the BP report appears to pin 4.5 of the eight problems on Transocean, one on Halliburton and 1.5 on BP, with one undecided.

1. The cement that was supposed to stop the oil and gas shooting up the well pipe didn’t work…

…2. Further barriers at the bottom of the drill pipe failed to stop the hydrocarbons bursting into the well pipe…

…3. A key pressure test performed to see if the well was under control was accepted despite the readings showing it was not..

…4. It took 40 minutes to realise gas and oil was shooting up the well…

…5. The surging hydrocarbons were not diverted “overboard” but brought onto the rig…

…6. Diversion of the oil and gas was “vented directly onto the rig”…

…7. The fire and gas system did not prevent the explosions…

…8. The blowout preventer (BOP), the ultimate failsafe, failed…
(8 September 2010)