BP Report Says No Single Factor to Blame for Oil Spill

BP has released its internal report on the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and is blaming the disaster on multiple parties. The report says that a series of failures and bad decisions on the part of BP, Transocean Ltd., and others aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig led to the April 20 explosion that killed 11 men and spawned the worst oil spill in US history.

The report is based on a four-month investigation led by Mark Bly, BP’s Head of Safety and Operations. Its key findings include:

• 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 recognize 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.

Transocean owned the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Cementing work on the platform was performed by Halliburton Co.

In a statement released this morning, outgoing BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward maintained that the investigation found that “it would appear unlikely that the well design contributed to the incident.” However, according to a report in The Washington Post, other oil company executives have said BP used a well design that was cheaper and easier to implement instead of a safer but more expensive design.

The BP report is just the first of several addressing the Deepwater Horizon disaster that is expected to be released in the coming months. The catastrophe is being investigated by several federal agencies, including the Justice Department, Coast Guard and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.

The Post report also noted that the other parties cited in the BP report have yet to give their version of events. Transocean, in particular, recently complained that BP hasn’t turned over data that would help with its own internal investigation.

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