BP Oil Spill Report Questions Rig Workers’ Training

A report on the BP oil spill from the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the National Research Council (NRE) has concluded that “an insufficient consideration of risk and a lack of operating discipline” contributed to the disaster. The interim report also says that important decisions made by key personnel aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig “raise questions about the adequacy of operating knowledge” on the part of those individuals.

The two groups are examining the probable causes of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, fire, and oil spill at the request of the US Department of the Interior in order to identify measures for preventing similar harm in the future.

According to a report in The Washington Post, the committee of academic experts conducting the study appears to have been taken aback by the education and training levels of people on the rig.

“Personnel on the Deepwater Horizon were mostly trained on the job, and this training was supplemented with limited short courses,” the report said. “While this appears to be consistent with industry standard practice and current regulations it is not consistent with other safety-critical industries such as nuclear power or chemical manufacturing.”

The panel also takes issue with the cementing job on the BP well, The Washington Post said. It noted that the well design complicated the drilling operation, especially given that there were multiple hydrocarbon zones. It also criticized the failure to run one kind of cement test and the failure to pay any attention to bad results from another test of the cement. The rig workers’ failure to determine why a critical pressure test failed, “suggests a lack of onboard expertise and of clearly defined responsibilities” and “a lack of management discipline that is inconsistent with the stakes involved,” the report said.

The study does not address any issues associated with the subsequent fire and release of oil and gas into the Gulf of Mexico, such as the rescue and fire response, plans for the spill response, spill response and clean up, or the related consequences of the oil spill on the environment or human health.

The BP oil spill began with an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that killed 11 men on April 20. All attempts to staunch the gusher failed, until a cap was successfully deployed over the well on July 15. By that time roughly 4.4 million barrels of oil had leaked into the Gulf of Mexico.

Help filing claims and other legal assistance for the victims of the BP oil spill is available at www.bigspill.com.

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