February 18, 2011
The chief counsel of the presidential oil spill commission has issued a final report laying considerable blame on BP for last year's disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. But he also points to flaws in Halliburton's work and errors by rig owner Transocean.
Fred H. Bartlit Jr., a prominent trial lawyer, said that for three years BP had been aware of problems with lab tests of Halliburton cement; that a reorganization of BP's engineering department resulted in delays; and that BP decided not to set a lockdown sleeve, an installation deep in the well, during its preparations for temporary abandonment in order to save 51/2 days and $2 million in costs.
He also said BP's well-site leader was not present, as he should have been, during a critical test known as a negative pressure test that indicated something was wrong.
Bartlit's report is the latest of a series from the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, which has already faulted a variety of factors, including decisions made by the well operator BP, rig owner Transocean, oil service provider Halliburton and federal regulators.
In a statement Thursday, BP did not dispute the report's specifics. The London-based oil giant said that it "has made every effort to understand the causes of the Deepwater Horizon accident to help prevent similar events from occurring in the future." BP said the presidential commission's findings - "particularly that the accident was the result of multiple causes, involving multiple parties - are largely consistent with those contained in the BP internal investigation report." It added that it is reorganizing its safety operations and reviewing its supervision of contractors.
Halliburton and Transocean did not issue comments.
Bartlit noted that in 2007, a consulting firm issued a quality-control report warning BP that Halliburton's lab technicians "do not have a lot of experience evaluating data" and that BP needed to improve communication with Halliburton "to avoid unnecessary delays or errors in the slurry design testing."
Read more at The Washington Post.