Gulf oil spill: Transocean report continues the circular finger-pointing
Transocean Ltd., the Swiss company that owned and operated the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, says the Gulf of Mexico oil spill that occurred last year is the result of successive decisions made by well owner BP. BP calls it "an advocacy piece" to support Transocean's "litigation strategy."
Transocean Ltd., the Swiss company that owned and operated the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, says the Gulf of Mexico oil spill that occurred last year is the result of successive decisions made by well owner BP that compromised the integrity of the well, resulting in 11 deaths and the discharge of 205 million gallons of oil into ocean waters over three months.Skip to next paragraph
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The company released an 854-page report in late June that follows a narrative consistent in blaming BP for “a succession of interrelated well design, construction and temporary abandonment decisions” that led to the well’s failure on April 20, 2010.
The company charges that BP “retained full authority over drilling operations, casing and cementing, and temporary abandonment procedures, including approval of all work to be performed by contractors and subcontractors,” and proceeds to show how that authority was misused with disastrous results.
Among the report's findings:
• The cement BP used to isolate the reservoir to prevent hydrocarbons from entering the well was “of minimal quality, left little margin for error and was not tested adequately before or after the cementing operation.” A hydrocarbon is a compound consisting of hydrogen and carbon, the high flow of pressure of which is blamed for making it difficult for the blowout preventer to seal the well properly.
• BP and Halliburton, the cementing contractor in the operation, did not perform tests to determine the stability of the cement. The report also says BP filed to use risk assessment tests approved by the Mineral Management Service [MMS], the now-dismantled federal agency charged with regulating drilling procedures and operations, in its effort to temporarily seal the well that would allow it to return to the site at a later time.
• BP failed to communicate properly with the drill crew regarding the instability of the cement mixture and the lack of testing involved in the process.
Despite its continual criticisms of BP, Transocean says the report does not represent its legal position “nor does it attempt to assign legal responsibility or fault.” The company describes the report as the result of an internal investigation by a team of experts.
The report is the latest in a series from several parties, including BP, involved in the spill. In each case, an attempt is made to create a factual record, which can be used as both a shield and as authoritative evidence in the numerous lawsuits that are currently underway and are expected to last years.