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BP Spreads the Blame for Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig Accident

On behalf of Terence Gross of Gross & Schuster, P.A. posted in Offshore & Boat Accidentson Wednesday, September 8, 2010.

BP’s released partial findings today from its internal investigation of the cause of the oil rig accident that cost the lives of eleven workers and the Gulf oil spill responsible for untold injuries and economic losses.

The investigation is not yet complete, however. This report was released just as BP’s blowout preventer was recovered from the ocean floor, so the role of the blowout preventer’s failure in causing the offshore accident has not yet been examined.

BP has already concluded, however, that it is not solely responsible for the damage, which includes injuries and wrongful death of the rig workers; injuries to and affects on cleanup workers; economic harm to the entire Gulf region; potentially catastrophic environmental harm — and the loss of a way of life for many Floridians and other Gulf residents.

“We have said from the beginning that the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon was a shared responsibility among many entities,” said Bob Dudley, BP’s incoming chief executive.

BP has already specifically crossed “faulty design” off the list of possible causes of the offshore accident, however. Departing chief executive Tony Hayward said that BP’s well design was not to blame.

BP Accuses Halliburton and Transocean of Negligence, But the Findings Don’t Include Analysis of Why BP’s Blowout Preventer Failed

The 234-page report, presented by Mark Bly, BP’s safety and operations head, found that Halliburton, the contractor responsible installing the cement seal on the newly drilled well, and Transocean, the owner of the rig, were both negligent.

BP’s investigation concluded:

  • The cement slurry Halliburton provided to seal the well failed to contain the oil and natural gas, allowing it to flow up pipes to the surface.
  • Both Transocean and BP accepted Halliburton’s cement test results even though those results showed that the cement wasn’t working.
  • Transocean failed to notice for 40 minutes that oil and gas were flowing up to the surface.
  • Once the natural gas reached the surface, it was routed through the rig’s ventilation system, allowing it to ignite and causing the oil rig explosion which resulted in thewrongful deaths of eleven workers.
  • BP’s blowout preventer should have capped off the well even after the explosion, but it failed to do so for reasons not yet known.

“It is evident that a series of complex events, rather than a single mistake or failure, led to the tragedy,” said Tony Hayward.

The failure of BP’s blowout preventer is thought by many to be a key factor in the offshore accident, but BP released these findings before its blowout preventer could be examined by experts. Nevertheless, board chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said he believes the report will help educate the industry about how the oil rig accident happened and how such catastrophes could be prevented in the future.

“I believe this report will be of significant value in helping the overall understanding of how this tragedy occurred,” said Svanberg.


“BP spreads blame” (Pensacola News Journal, September 8, 2010)

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