No regret(s) for BP

2010-09-09 09:49

New Orleans – BP’s long-awaited internal report on what it believes went wrong when a rig exploded and started the Gulf oil spill never mentions the words blame, regret, apology, mistake or pollution. The word fault shows up 20 times, but only once in the same sentence as the company’s name.

BP took some of the blame, acknowledging among other things that it misinterpreted a key pressure test of the well that blew out and eventually spewed 780 million litres of oil into the Gulf. But in a possible preview of its legal strategy, it also pointed the finger – and plenty – at its partners on the doomed rig.

The highly technical, 193-page report released yesterday attributes the worst offshore oil spill in US history and the deadly rig explosion that set it off to a complex chain of failures both human and mechanical.

Some of those problems have been made public over the past few months, such as the failure of the blowout preventer to
clamp the well shut.

The report is far from the definitive ruling on the cause of the catastrophe. For one thing, government investigators have not yet begun to fully analyse the blowout preventer, which was raised from the bottom of the sea over Labour Day weekend.

But it does provide an early look at the company’s probable legal strategy – spreading the blame among itself, rig owner Transocean, and cement contractor Halliburton – as it deals with hundreds of lawsuits, billions of dollars in claims and possible criminal charges in the coming months and years.

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