US report spreads blame for BP oil spill

2011-09-14 20:07

Washington - A key US government report spreads the blame for the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, citing a bad cement job and poor management decisions by BP and its subcontractors.

The finding by the agency that regulates offshore drilling could strengthen BP's legal case for recovering some of the massive costs of the spill from Halliburton, which performed the cement job, rig owner Transocean and parts manufacturer Cameron, which supplied the faulty blowout preventer.

The report concluded that a "central cause of the blowout was failure of a cement barrier".

The loss of 11 lives aboard the rig and the subsequent pollution were "the result of poor risk management, last-minute changes to plans, failure to observe and respond to critical indicators, inadequate well control response, and insufficient emergency bridge response training", the report concluded.

BP has spent $40.7bn on the biggest maritime oil spill in history and could still be liable for billions in fines, compensation and restoration costs.

It is currently embroiled in a series of lawsuits over apportioning the costs.

Wednesday's report comes at the conclusion of a 17-month investigation by the US coast guard and the bureau of ocean energy management, regulation and enforcement.

The coast guard slammed drilling rig operator Transocean's "poor safety culture" in its initial analysis which was released in April.

It cited poor maintenance, inadequate training and the bypassing of alarms and automatic shutdown systems, which prevented the crew from shutting down the runaway well after it blew and led to a chaotic abandonment of the blazing Deepwater Horizon rig.

A presidential commission tasked with investigating the spill also blamed the disaster on management failures by BP, Halliburton and Transocean.

The BP-leased Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20 2010.

By the time the well was capped 87 days later, 4.9 million barrels of oil had gushed out of the runaway well 1 500m below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

Hundreds of kilometres of fragile coastal wetlands and beaches were contaminated, a third of the Gulf's rich US waters were closed to fishing and the economic costs have reached into the tens of billions.

Read more on:    bp  |  us  |  us oil slick

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