BP Report on Gulf Disaster Spreads the Blame Around

By Andrew Moseman | September 9, 2010 10:49 am

DeepwaterFireBack in May, when executives from BP, Halliburton, and Transocean were hauled in front of Congress to account for the Gulf of Mexico disaster, it was a merry-go-round of blame. With BP publishing online its own internal investigation into the accident this week, it’s more of the same.

BP’s report is far from the definitive ruling on the blowout’s causes, but it may provide some hint of the company’s legal strategy — spreading the blame among itself, rig owner Transocean, and cement contractor Halliburton — as it faces hundreds of lawsuits and possible criminal charges over the spill. Government investigators and congressional panels are looking into the cause as well. [AP]

BP cites eight different places where the accident of April 20 aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig could have been prevented, but points the finger mostly away from itself. One of those problems, it says, was with the workers on the rig.

The BP investigation found human fault, concluding that rig workers should have known from computer data that gas was flowing into the well for at least 40 minutes before the explosion. But crew members testified at the federal hearings that some gas alarm systems had been either bypassed or disarmed on the orders of rig officials. [Los Angeles Times]

As for the well design?

The report absolves BP’s widely criticized well design. It says the path that oil and gas followed as they escaped from the well meant that the well’s casing and design — matters that could otherwise implicate BP — were not factors in the disaster. [Washington Post]

Check out Ars Technica’s post for a full technical explanation of BP’s findings, including how nitrogen leaks caused faulty seals and how high pressure overpowered the rig’s diverters. The company lists the eight problem items in its executive summary (pdf).

Again, though, this report is as much a preparation for BP’s ongoing legal defense as a full accounting of what went wrong. To that end, Transocean and Halliburton already have responded to BP’s report with their own legal jockeying, arguing that the BP well design was the real problem, not Transocean’s rig or Halliburton’s cementing job.

Furthermore, BP’s internal investigators relied on drilling experts from Alaska, not the Gulf, saying they wanted to avoid a conflict. They also did not have the failed blowout preventer itself, which the Washington Post reports was hauled up to the surface last week and is in the hands of the federal investigators looking into the accident.

Previous posts on the BP oil spill:
80beats: Scientists Find 22-Mile-Long Oily Plume Drifting in the Gulf of Mexico
80beats: BP Oil Update: Tar Balls in Texas & Lake Pontchartrain
80beats: Gulf Coast Turtle News: No More Fiery Death; Relocating 70,000 Eggs
80beats: Testimony Highlights 3 Major Failures That Caused Gulf Spill

Image: U.S. Coast Guard

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment
  • http://Untitledvanityproject.blogspot.com Rhacodactylus

    In a related story, earth continues to spin, day continues to follow night and the laws of physics remain constant.

  • Brian Too

    A report full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Scratch the surface and you’ll find a room full of lawyers. Scratch a little deeper and you’ll find BP executives concerned about the financial liability and their own careers. Dig really deep and you’ll discover shareholders who don’t want their share price to go down.

    Suddenly BP is full of experts who know exactly how to drill a well, and this was done all wrong? Yet this was BP’s well and presumably they’d put adequate talent and resources on it, right?

    Or were corners cut in order to cut costs and increase profitability? All with full knowledge and participation by the relevant BP decision makers?

  • Uponna Dyck

    I think the big picture that is missed is that BP still owns the rig, which was not to be the case before the planned detonation. Shares fall, shell doesnt want to buy the well, BP liquidates 8B in assets. Cheaper to pay the lawyers then acquire new wells. Not to mention the Corexit, worse then the spill. Especially since it changed the viscosity of the gulf stream, pretty much stopping it. Say hello to increased fuel prices in the next ice age, which no one was planning for….

  • dan42day

    Well if I was a BP executive, I’d certainly be concerned about financial liability, now and in the future, and would like to know what happened and why and how it can be prevented from happening again. That’s what I would want them to do if I happened to be a shareholder, which I probably am due to my 401K, you probably are too if you have any kind of invested retirement fund. I’d also be a little concerned about my career right now after seeing the boss go.

    As for cutting corners to cut costs and increase profitability, of course they do. If they and the rest of the industry took every possible precaution, and avoided all risk, we would not be able to afford a tank of gas. Think Space Shuttle (and even they screwed up).

    I also read today that a lot of the gulf fishermen are reluctant to go back to fishing now that they’ve gotten used to a steady paycheck from BP. So far it seems to me that BP has reacted in a pretty responsible way to this whole mess and no doubt will learn lessons to help it avoid future screw-ups. Considering all the voices out there that call for BP to lay down and die so they can pick the carcass to the bone, I don’t blame them for being a little defensive.

  • Uponna Dyck

    sounds like you’re getting a BP paycheque too dan42day, you sound remarkably like a lawyer…. chicago, west side.. consider a career that won’t have billions of people hunting you down in the next ten years as disclosure happens..

  • http://www.morgellonsreport.com Trisha Springstead RN

    Look BP is paying off scientists to lie.

    People are Dying in this spill. The fish are Dangerous in the Gulf. The fishermen are reluctant to work because they know if they do and one person gets sick they are liable.
    We have been told to Stay out of the Water and not eat seafood by the Brightest of Scientists.
    Riki Ott http://www.rikiott.com
    I believe in the death penalty, for anyone at BP or Haliburton or Exxon Valdez for Crimes against humanity. This is GENOCIDE.
    Why was that garbage outlawed in 32 Countries and dumped on us, that was man made and no accident.
    The Elite think, out of sight and out of mind. That water is lethal. BP should pay for not only the disaster they created and they should be put up on Treason Charges, Jailed and or Executed.
    We have finger print analysis on Sarasota Beach and it was a match to that Macando Well.
    RELUCTANT, THEY WANT TO WORK BUT DO NOT WANT TO POISON PEOPLE.
    Do your homework, one more rig in that floor and you are going to see a tsunami blow to kingdom.
    We think Oil is from fossils, that oil is abiotic…..without life.
    People are dying from Benzine, hexanes and carcinogens.
    I am an RN working with Barefoot Doctors org. They are dying from the Benzine in the Air.
    From the Gulf Stream to the Blood stream in two years many will be dead down here and we cover it up.
    http://www.barefootdoctors.org
    Google Why is the world awash in environmental Armegeddon.
    Do your homework. The Gulf is a DEADZONE.
    Reasearch Tom Termattos work on the BP Gulf Plague.
    Who ever made the decision to drill that deep, fast and cut corners should be in Jail and the they were told by the EPA not to use the corexit.
    Buddy I have been there and was almost arrested for gathering samples to send to GOOD scientists. It is a military zone up there.
    BP should be on a Defense, a Defense stand in a Court of Law, for their irresponsible pompous and reckless behavior.
    Trisha Springstead RN MS

  • http://hypothyroidismcures.info Mitsue Remaley

    Several of these messages on this article look like trash; You should moderate them. bible study

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