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BP's Report on Gulf Oil Spill Shifts Blame to Transocean and Halliburton

With a conclusion unlikely to be taken as seriously as independent investigations, BP has issued its own internal report on the Gulf oil disaster that shifts the blame to its subcontractors -- primarily Transocean and Halliburton -- as the primary potential plaintiffs in the disaster:
While it puts some responsibility on BP for errors made — such as misreading pressure data that indicated a blowout was imminent — the report tries to undermine the notion that the company acted with gross negligence. Among its most significant conclusions, the report said that the blowout came up the center of the pipe and not up the outside of the well casing, the area known as the annulus.

If true, the finding is significant because it plays down the importance of certain BP decisions that have been criticized as negligent. One such decision was BP’s choice of a type of well casing that internal documents indicated the company knew was cheaper but riskier. Another such decision was BP’s use of fewer-than-advised centralizers, devices that are meant to keep the casing properly positioned.
The 193 page report shifts the blame to BP's contractors, Halliburton for their cementing of the well and Transocean who operated the rig. From BP's summary:
The report – based on a four-month investigation led by Mark Bly, BP’s Head of Safety and Operations and conducted independently by a team of over 50 technical and other specialists drawn from inside BP and externally – found that:

• The cement and shoe track barriers – and in particular the cement slurry that was used – at the bottom of the Macondo well failed to contain hydrocarbons within the reservoir, as they were designed to do, and allowed gas and liquids to flow up the production casing;

• The results of the negative pressure test were incorrectly accepted by BP and Transocean, although well integrity had not been established;

• Over a 40-minute period, the Transocean rig crew failed to recognise and act on the influx of hydrocarbons into the well until the hydrocarbons were in the riser and rapidly flowing to the surface;

• After the well-flow reached the rig it was routed to a mud-gas separator, causing gas to be vented directly on to the rig rather than being diverted overboard;

• The flow of gas into the engine rooms through the ventilation system created a potential for ignition which the rig’s fire and gas system did not prevent;

• Even after explosion and fire had disabled its crew-operated controls, the rig’s blow-out preventer on the sea-bed should have activated automatically to seal the well. But it failed to operate, probably because critical components were not working.
The report gives a preview of what may be BP's legal strategy against the mountain of claims and suits that are expected to clog the courts.  There are disputes to the accounts that will requiring sorting, such as Halliburton's claim that they tried to warn BP in April of the danger, whereas BP says that Halliburton had expressed confidence in their operation.

The circular finger pointing is expected to continue.



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