BP's Oil Spill Probe Reportedly Faults Its Own EngineersAug 30, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP
BP is apparently putting some blame for the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion on its own engineers. According to a Bloomberg News report, the oil company’s internal investigation misread a test of the well’s stability on April 20, the day of the disaster.
A person familiar with the internal BP report told Bloomberg that pressure data from that test indicated a blowout was imminent. But because it was misinterpreted, workers aboard the rig began replacing drilling fluid in the well with seawater, a substance that was too light to prevent natural gas that was already leaking into the well from shooting up the well pipe to the rig. The gas then exploded, killing 11 workers and spawning the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
According to Bloomberg, the 200-page internal BP report was compiled by a team of BP investigators led by the company’s head of safety and operations. It concludes that the oil giant bears “partial responsibility” for the Deepwater Horizon disaster. However, it also places some blame on Transocean Ltd., the owner of the doomed rig, Bloomberg said. The findings are to be released in the next 10 days.
According to Bloomberg, one of the managers in charge of interpreting the test data on the well was put on administrative leave pending the results of BP’s internal investigation. Other workers also have been put on leave.
An eight-member investigation team from Coast Guard and the Interior Department has asked BP to turn over a copy of the report as soon as possible, Bloomberg said. That panel’s investigation is focusing on how BP employees aboard the rig and in Houston failed to detect signals that the well was about to erupt.
Meanwhile, BP’s plans to permanently kill its leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico have been delayed once again, according to The Washington Post. Engineers were supposed to begin removing a temporary containment cap put in place last month in order to remove the well’s failed blowout preventer and replace it with a new piece of equipment. After that, engineers are to finish drilling a relief well that will be used to permanently plug the well with cement and mud.
According to the Post report, BP announced the postponement in a Twitter posting this morning. It did not say how long the delay will be.
According to government estimates, 4.9 million barrels of oil escaped from the well between the April 20 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and the deployment of the temporary containment cap that finally stopped the flow on July 15.