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BP Spreads The Blame

How about this for some real corporate mumbo jumbo? BP’s own internal report into the Deepwater Horizon disaster mixes the technical with the pseudo diplomatic. But there is no doubt that BP is, to coin a phrase, trying to spread oil on troubled waters, and in that process ensure that it’s two partners Haliburton and Transocean don’t get away with escaping any of the blame – which BP believe is shared.

In the 193-page internal report released on its website, BP said that decisions made by “multiple companies and work teams” contributed to the accident, which it said arose from “a complex and interlinked series of mechanical failures, human judgements, engineering design, operational implementation and team interfaces”.  This means Haliburton and Transocean.

And here is the knockout line – the one that has got Transocean hopping mad;

 “Over a 40-minute period, the Transocean rig crew failed to recognise and act on the influx of hydrocarbons into the well” which eventually caused the explosion.

BP was leasing the Deepwater Horizon rig from Transocean, and its cement contractor was Halliburton. So the BP report was critical of the processes and actions of teams from both firms.

However, in a statement issued after the report, Transocean deflected BP’s criticism, calling the company’s own well design “fatally flawed”.

“In both its design and construction, BP made a series of cost-saving decisions that increased risk – in some cases, severely,” the Associated Press has reported Transocean as saying.

The report, conducted by BP’s head of safety, Mark Bly, highlighted eight key failures that, in combination, led to the explosion.

BP said that both BP and Transocean staff incorrectly interpreted a safety test which should have flagged up risks of a blowout.

This is called ‘getting your revenge in first’, and it will be interesting to see the reaction of the US media. In Britain, of course, there is a great deal of anger at the way in which BP appears to have been dumped on from a great height – while little, or no mention, has been made of the company’s two US partners. The next question is, does the BP report now open the way for a series of legal suits against Transocean and Haliburton? The answer is probably yes, hence the ferocious denials of culpability from the two companies.


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