September 8, 2010

BP Inquiry Finds Many To Blame For Oil Spill

An internal investigation by British petroleum firm BP has found that they were partially to blame for the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill that started back in April, but also noted that the fault for what many have called the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history was not their's alone.

According to AFP reports on Wednesday, the company released a summary of their findings in which they stated that "no single factor caused the Macondo well tragedy. Rather, a sequence of failures involving a number of different parties led to the explosion and fire which killed 11 people and caused widespread pollution in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year."

The full 193-page report, which is available on the BP website, also claimed that decisions made by "multiple companies and work teams"--themselves included--contributed to the accident, which itself was caused by "a complex and interlinked series of mechanical failures, human judgments, engineering design, operational implementation and team interfaces."

In addition to BP, the report--which was completed by the energy company's safety chief Mark Bly--also fingered Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig which sank to start the disaster, as liable in the Gulf spill. Bly found a total of eight failures that together resulted in the April 20 explosion which killed 11 and ultimately led to nearly five million barrels of oil leaking into the Gulf waters between April 22 and July 15.

Included among those key factors was a safety test, the results of which were misread by BP and Transocean staff. Had the Transocean rig crew recognized the influx of hydrocarbons into the well, the explosion could have been prevented, according to Bly. The report also criticized the cementing of the well, which was completed by Halliburton.

"The investigation report provides critical new information on the causes of this terrible accident," BP's outgoing chief executive Tony Hayward told AFP on Wednesday. "It is evident that a series of complex events, rather than a single mistake or failure, led to the tragedy. Multiple parties, including BP, Halliburton and Transocean, were involved."

"To put it simply, there was a bad cement job and a failure of the shoe track barrier at the bottom of the well, which let hydrocarbons from the reservoir into the production casing," he added in a separate interview with BBC News. "The negative pressure test was accepted when it should not have been, there were failures in well control procedures and in the blowout preventer; and the rig's fire and gas system did not prevent ignition."

Transocean and Halliburton have not yet commented on the report, according to the BBC.

In related news, a 95-page National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report released on Tuesday reported that microbes that have been consuming the remaining oil in the Gulf are doing so without depleting oxygen from the water and making in inhabitable to fish, according to AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein.

"Outside scientists said this so far vindicates the difficult and much-debated decision by BP and the government to use massive amounts of chemical dispersants deep underwater to break up the oil before it reached the surface," said Borenstein.

"Federal officials had been tracking oxygen levels and use of dispersants since the spill, which spewed more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf between April and July," he added. "Had the oxygen plummeted near dangerous levels, the dispersant use would have been stopped," according to what officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told the AP.


On the Net: