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US report spreads blame for BP oil spill
  • | AFP | September 15, 2011 08:28 AM

A key US government report spreads the blame for the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, citing a bad cement job, poor management by BP and its subcontractors and risky shortcuts.

Workers clean a beach after tar balls washed up in South Pass, Louisiana in 2010. A key US government report spreads the blame for the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, citing a bad cement job and poor management decisions by BP and its subcontractors

The findings by the agency that regulates offshore drilling are largely in line with other investigations into the 2010 disaster, but offer the most detailed analysis to date.

The report that came out on Wednesday is expected to influence a criminal investigation being conducted by the US Justice Department and impact fines imposed upon the British energy giant. Regulators said they planned to issue seven new citations based upon the report\'s conclusions.

It could also strengthen BP\'s legal case for recovering some of the massive multi-billion dollar costs of the spill from Halliburton, which performed the cement job, rig owner Transocean and parts manufacturer Cameron, which supplied the faulty blowout preventer.

Wednesday\'s 500-page report wraps up a 17-month investigation by the US Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, and concluded that a "central cause of the blowout was failure of a cement barrier."

The loss of 11 lives aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig and the subsequent pollution were "the result of poor risk management, last-minute changes to plans, failure to observe and respond to critical indicators, inadequate well control response, and insufficient emergency bridge response training."

While the report cited numerous failures by Halliburton and Transocean, it noted that BP was "ultimately responsible" for operations and concluded that "BP\'s failure to have full supervision and accountability over the activities associated with the Deepwater Horizon was a contributing cause."

It also cited "BP\'s cost- or time-saving decisions without considering contingencies and mitigation as "contributing causes."

The Coast Guard slammed drilling rig operator Transocean\'s "poor safety culture" in its initial analysis which was released in April.

A presidential commission tasked with investigating the spill also blamed the disaster on management failures by BP, Halliburton and Transocean.

BP has spent $40.7 billion on the biggest maritime oil spill in history and could still be liable for billions in fines, compensation and restoration costs.

It is currently embroiled in a series of lawsuits over apportioning the costs and said in a statement that it agrees with the report\'s "core conclusion" that the accident was "the result of multiple causes, involving multiple parties, including Transocean and Halliburton."

"From the outset, BP acknowledged its role in the accident and has taken concrete steps to further enhance safety and risk management throughout its global operations," the BP statement said.

"We continue to encourage other parties to acknowledge their roles in the accident and make changes to help prevent similar accidents in the future."

A top lawmaker said the report should eliminate any "excuses" for passing critical reforms and called for congressional hearings.

"The facts are now in, and now it is time to take action and implement comprehensive reforms to ensure this kind of accident never occurs again in US waters," said Representative Ed Markey, the lead Democrat on the congressional natural resources committee.

Transocean took "strong exception" to the report\'s criticism of the rig\'s drill crew, but said the report "rightly concludes" that the primary cause was the failure of the cement in the well and that the magnitude of the blowout made the onboard explosion "unavoidable."

Halliburton did not immediately return a request for comment.

The BP-leased Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20, 2010 some 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the coast of Louisiana.

By the time the well was capped 87 days later, 4.9 million barrels (206 million gallons) of oil had gushed out of the runaway well 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.
 

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