BP report: "a devastating litany of human error, incompetence and technical failure"

BP’s internal investigation of the catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill does its best to spread the blame around …

Excerpts from the BBC’s summary of BP’s latest entry in the blame game:

The report says no one action or inaction was behind the accident. Instead, “multiple companies, work teams and circumstances were involved over time.” It blames the combination of “a complex and interlinked series of mechanical failures, human judgements, engineering design, operational implementation and team interfaces.”

Transocean (the rig’s owner): Transocean was responsible for the safety valve known as the blowout preventer. The report says six leaks were identified in its hydraulic system. While it was on the wellhead, the investigators say the preventer appeared to follow BP and Transocean’s standards. However, they say there were “no indications” that intervention systems had been tested at the surface, “as was required by Transocean policy”, before it was deployed on the well.

Halliburton (cement provider): The day before the accident, cement was pumped into the drill column of the well to prevent hydrocarbons entering it from the reservoir. The BP investigation says there were “weaknesses in cement design and testing, quality assurance and risk assessment.” It suggests that “improved engineering rigour, cement testing and communication of risk” by Halliburton could have identified those flaws.

Transocean and BP (the well owner): A “negative-pressure test” was carried out to check the mechanical barriers. The report says that Transocean rig crew and BP leaders on the site “reached the incorrect view” that the test had been a success and the well was secure.

The crew: The report says that the Transocean rig crew and a team described as “mudloggers” working for Halliburton Sperry Sun may have been distracted by what are described as “end-of-well activities” and, as a result, important monitoring was not carried out for more than seven hours. The crew “underbalanced” the well by pouring seawater into it rather than heavy-drilling mud. This allowed gases through the blowout preventer.

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Statement from Greenpeace International Energy Campaign:

“BP’s self penned review is a sorry attempt to spread the blame for the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, but still reveals a devastating litany of human error, incompetence and technical failure.

“As oil companies pursue marginal profits in challenging environments these compromises and failures are inevitable. If we want to avoid future deep water oil disasters governments need to move the world beyond oil by investing in clean energy solutions.

“Greenpeace is calling for an immediate ban on all deep water drilling, which is the only sensible response to this disaster. The time has come to move beyond oil and invest in clean energy.”

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