The blame game;
Faulty cementing, a misread pressure test and an improperly maintained blowout preventer all contributed to the April 20 explosion that uncorked the worst oil spill in U.S. history, BP's investigation of the disaster concluded Wednesday.
BP said its team aboard the doomed oil rig Deepwater Horizon "incorrectly accepted" results of a negative pressure test aboard the rig before the blast, but the company's internal report assigns much of the blame to rig owner Transocean and cementing contractor Halliburton. The three companies have repeatedly pointed fingers at each other since the explosion, which killed 11 workers and resulted in an estimated 4.9 million barrels (205 million gallons) of oil spilling into the Gulf.
"The team did not identify any single action or inaction that caused this accident," BP's report states. "Rather, a complex and interlinked series of mechanical failures, human judgments, engineering design, operational implementation and team interfaces came together to allow the initiation and escalation of the accident. Multiple companies, work teams and circumstances were involved over time."
There was no immediate response to the report by either Transocean or Halliburton.
The conclusions follow July remarks by outgoing BP CEO Tony Hayward, who said that the disaster "was the result of multiple equipment errors and human error involving many companies." Bob Dudley, who is replacing Hayward, said Wednesday's report "makes that conclusion even clearer."
"We deeply regret this event. We have sought throughout to step up to our responsibilities. We are determined to learn the lessons for the future and we will be undertaking a broad-scale review to further improve the safety of our operations," Dudley said in a statement accompanying the report. "We will invest whatever it takes to achieve that. It will be incumbent on everyone at BP to embrace and implement the changes necessary to ensure that a tragedy like this can never happen again."
BP owned the Macondo well, located in about 5,000 feet of water about 45 miles off southeastern Louisiana, and hired Transocean and Halliburton as contractors. Wednesday's report found weaknesses in the design of the cementing job that allowed oil and gas to burst out of the well, and states that BP investigators found signs of "potential weaknesses in the testing regime and maintenance management system" for the rig's blowout preventer -- the massive fail-safe device that failed to shut down the well.
"The day before the accident, cement had been pumped down the production casing and up into the wellbore annulus to prevent hydrocarbons from entering the wellbore from the reservoir. The annulus cement that was placed across the main hydrocarbon zone was a light, nitrified foam cement slurry. This annulus cement probably experienced nitrogen breakout and migration, allowing hydrocarbons to enter the wellbore annulus," the report states.
BP acknowledged that its team leaders aboard the rig should not have accepted the results of a key test of the cement seal on the well shortly before the explosion. Those well site leaders -- the "company men" aboard the rig -- have refused to appear before a Coast Guard-Interior Department board investigating the disaster, with one invoking his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and the other citing illness.
"In retrospect, pressure readings and volume bled at the time of the negative-pressure test were indications of flow-path communication with the reservoir, signifying that the integrity of these barriers had not been achieved," the report states. "The Transocean rig crew and BP well site leaders reached the incorrect view that the test was successful and that well integrity had been established."
But the company also faults Transocean's crew for failing "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."
"Indications of influx with an increase in drill pipe pressure are discernible in real-time data from approximately 40 minutes before the rig crew took action to control the well," the report states. "The rig crew's first apparent well control actions occurred after hydrocarbons were rapidly flowing to the surface."http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/09/08/us.gul ... tml?hpt=T1
Kind of what I expected, that the contractors all, were to blame, and the ultimate blame falls on BP for failure of oversight and making the contracted companies meet safety standards existing or not.
Deepwater drilling is the future of oil now as I see it, possibly the only way to find it now that we have depleted existing land drilled sites and supply. With the prospect of deepwater drilling comes cheap fuel once again, and the need to abate our use of oil will be undermined by the fact it is cheap.
The ocean however is a fragile thing, the spoiling of it is a far worse thing than global warming or radical climate change.