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US Report on BP Oil Disaster Out: Shared Blame (But Not Enough of It)

Deepwater Horizon Explosion, courtesy of Wikipedia

In July of 2010 Barack Obama created a commission to investigate the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed eleven workers and leaked ‘four million barrels of oil’  (other studies estimate more) into the Gulf of Mexico; the report was released today.

It indicates that BP, Transocean and Halliburton all share responsibility, but BP the bears the most since they profited the most obscenely since safety was their responsibility.

From the BBC:

“A US federal report has blamed the worst oil spill in US history on “key mis-steps”, poor leadership and a poor cement job by BP and its contractors.

BP was “ultimately responsible” for rig safety, with Transocean responsible for safe operations and worker safety.

BP tried to save time and money at the cost of safety, while Transocean continued to operate the well after hazards were made evident, it says.  [snip]


The report says the disaster was “the result of poor risk management, last-minute changes to plans, failure to observe and respond to critical indicators, inadequate well control response, insufficient emergency bridge response training by companies and individuals responsible.”

As well as labelling BP as “ultimately responsible” for safety, it blames Halliburton for conducting a poor cement job to seal the well.”

From Reuters:

“Poor management and critical mistakes by BP and its contractors led to the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, according to the final report of the largest U.S. government probe into last year’s massive Gulf oil spill.

Investigators from the U.S. Coast Guard and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management scattered blame for the accident on the companies involved while also saying stronger regulations could have helped prevent the catastrophe.

BP stock was up $1.04 to $37.94 in New York shortly after release of the report.

In the days leading up to the accident, BP made a series of decisions that complicated cementing operations and may have contributed to the ultimate failure of the cement on the well, the investigators found.

In the days leading up to the accident, BP made a series of decisions that complicated cementing operations and may have contributed to the ultimate failure of the cement on the well, the investigators found.

BP failed to communicate these decisions and the “increasing operational risks” to Transocean, the contractor that owned and operated the Deepwater Horizon rig, according to the report.

“As a result, BP and Transocean personnel onboard the Deepwater Horizon … did not fully identify and evaluate the risks inherent in the operations that were being conducted at Macondo,” the report said.

Transocean workers missed an opportunity to address the cement problems when they misinterpreted a critical test of the well’s cement barriers.

Halliburton was responsible for cementing on the Macondo well.”

(bold mine throughout)

A separate BBC piece says that Chief Counsel Fred Barlitt for the investigating commission challenged Henry Waxman and Bart Stupak for their claims that BP made disastrous cost-cutting decisions that increased safety risks that led to the explosion.

Among the commission’s preliminary findings, released on Monday, was that there was “no evidence at this time to suggest that there was a conscious decision to sacrifice safety concerns to save money“.

“We see no instance where a decision-making person or group of people sat there aware of safety risks, aware of costs, and opted to give up safety for costs,” Mr Bartlit said in his presentation.

He added: “We do not say everything done was perfectly safe. We’re saying that people have said people traded safety for dollars. We studied the hell out of this. We welcome anybody who gives us something we missed.”

But Mr Bartlit did say BP had left some important information out of its investigation into the disaster, which unleashed more than 200m gallons (757m litres) of crude oil into the Gulf. He added that there were areas where the panel’s probe would conflict with BP’s findings.”

BBC interviewed two localsin Louisiana for comment:

Daniel Becnel, a Louisiana lawyer who is suing BP, said the new findings were “absolutely absurd”.

“They are pasting over because they know the government is going to be a defendant sooner or later in this litigation,” Mr Becnel said.

Billy Nungesser, the president of Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana, also challenged the panel’s findings.

“Why cut corners if it is not for money?” he said.

Monday’s presentation kicked off a two-day hearing that is due to include reaction from BP, Transocean and Halliburton, the contractor which did the cement job on the Macondo well.

A final report from the panel is due by 11 January.  And remember:

“Secretary of The InferiorKen Salazar announced that on December 14 Inferior will hold the first lease sale on gas and oil in the Gulf of Mexico since the massive BP spill last year.”

It really is a beautiful world…when you don’t want to smack these folks around…or worse.

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