Sep 8, 2010 5:24 PM by Melissa Canone
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - In an internal report released Wednesday, BP
blames itself, other companies' workers and a complex series of
failures for the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the drilling
rig explosion that preceded it.
The 193-page report was posted on the company's website even
though investigators have not yet begun to fully analyze a key
piece of equipment, the blowout preventer, that should have cut off
the flow of oil from the ruptured well but did not.
That means 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.
"This report is not BP's mea culpa," said Rep. Edward J.
Markey, D-Mass., a frequent BP critic and a member of a
congressional panel investigating the spill. "Of their own eight
key findings, they only explicitly take responsibility for half of
one. BP is happy to slice up blame, as long as they get the
Robert Gordon, an attorney whose firm represents more than 1,000
fisherman, hotels, and restaurants affected by the spill, was more
"BP blaming others for the Gulf oil disaster is like Bernie
Madoff blaming his accountant," he said.
Members of Congress, industry experts and workers who survived
the rig explosion have accused BP's engineers of cutting corners to
save time and money on a project that was 43 days and more than $20
million behind schedule at the time of the blast.
BP's report acknowledged, as investigators have previously
suggested, that its engineers and employees of Transocean
misinterpreted a pressure test of the well's integrity. It also
blamed employees on the rig from both companies for failing to
respond to warning signs that the well was in danger of blowing
Mark Bly, BP's chief investigator, said at a briefing in
Washington that the internal report was a reconstruction of what
happened on the rig based on the company's data and interviews with
mostly BP employees and was not meant to focus on assigning blame.
The six-person investigating panel only had access to a few workers
from other companies, and samples of the actual cement used in the
well were not released.
Outgoing BP chief Tony Hayward, who is being replaced Oct. 1 by
American Bob Dudley, said in a statement that a bad cement job and
a failure of a barrier at the bottom of the well let oil and gas
Transocean blasted BP's report, calling it a self-serving
attempt to conceal the real cause of the explosion, which it blamed
on what it called "BP's fatally flawed well design."
"In both its design and construction, BP made a series of
cost-saving decisions that increased risk - in some cases,
severely," Transocean said.
Halliburton said in a statement of its own that it found a
number of omissions and inaccuracies in the report and is confident
the work it completed on the well met BP's specifications.
"Contractors do not specify well design or make decisions
regarding testing procedures as that responsibility lies with the
well owner," the statement said
An AP analysis of the report shows that the words "blame" and
"mistake" never appear. "Fault" shows up 20 times, but only
once in the same sentence as the company's name.
Steve Yerrid, special counsel on the oil spill for Florida Gov.
Charlie Crist, said the report clearly shows the company is
attempting to spread blame for the well disaster, foreshadowing
what will be a likely legal effort to force Halliburton and
Transocean, and perhaps others, to share costs such as paying
claims and government penalties.
In midday trading in New York, BP shares were up $1.15, or 3
percent, to $38.32.
Several divisions of the U.S. government, including the Justice
Department, Coast Guard and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management,
Regulation and Enforcement, are also investigating the explosion.
The blowout preventer was raised from the water off the coast of
Louisiana on Saturday. As of Tuesday afternoon, it had not reached
a NASA facility in New Orleans where government investigators
planned to analyze it, so those conclusions were not part of BP's
Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government's point man
on the spill response, said the BP report will add to
investigators' understanding "but is not the end-all-be-all ...
about why it happened and what needs to happen in the future."
The rig explosion killed 11 workers and sent 206 million gallons
of oil spewing from BP's undersea well.
Investigators know the explosion was triggered by a bubble of
methane gas that escaped from the well and shot up the drill
column, expanding quickly as it burst through several seals and
barriers before igniting.
But they don't know exactly how or why the gas escaped. And they
don't know why the blowout preventer didn't seal the well pipe at
the sea bottom after the eruption, as it was supposed to.
There were signs of problems prior to the explosion, including
an unexpected loss of fluid from a pipe known as a riser five hours
before the explosion that could have indicated a leak in the
Witness statements show that rig workers talked just minutes
before the blowout about pressure problems in the well.
At first, nobody seemed too worried, workers have said. Then
panic set in.
Workers called their bosses to report that the well was "coming
in" and that they were "getting mud back." The drilling
supervisor, Jason Anderson, tried to shut down the well.
It didn't work. At least two explosions turned the rig into an
In its report, BP defended the well's design, which has been
criticized by industry experts. It also said "more thorough review
and testing by Halliburton" and "stronger quality assurance" by
BP's well team well might have identified potential flaws and
weaknesses in the design for the cement job.
In June, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's chairmen
said it was BP that made five crucial decisions before the
Deepwater Horizon well blowout that "posed a trade-off between
cost and well safety." One of those decisions: BP opted against
conducting a certain kind of test of the integrity of a cement job
at the well. The test would have cost more than $128,000 and taken
nine to 12 hours to perform, the committee's letter notes.
In May, senior BP drilling engineer Mark Hafle told the Coast
Guard and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management investigators that BP
didn't order the test even though more than 3,000 barrels of mud
had been lost while drilling, a possible warning sign