The president’s Oil Spill Commission—officially the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling—has presented its report to the White House and will officially disband on March 11. The report concludes that BP was long aware of problems with cementing work performed by Halliburton, which was among the contractors on BP’s Macondo well. The report finds that the “root technical cause” of last April’s blowout was inadequate cementing. “BP’s failures are especially troubling because it had previously identified several relevant areas for concern during a 2007 audit of Halliburton’s capabilities,” the report states.
More generally, the report traces the spill to management errors by all the companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon rig. “The sad fact is that this was an entirely preventable disaster,” said the Commission’s chief counsel Fred Bartlit. He said the report determined the “root technical cause” of the blowout that killed 11 workers and unleashed the spill was a failure of “the cement that BP and Halliburton pumped to the bottom of the well.”
The report finds: “BP did not fully appreciate all of the risks that Macondo presented. It did not adequately supervise the work of its contractors, who in turn did not deliver to BP all of the benefits of their expertise. BP personnel on the rig were not properly trained and supported, and all three companies failed to communicate key information to people who could have made a difference.”
It also notes: “A BP engineering reorganization in early 2010 resulted in delays and distractions for the team drilling the Macondo well.” It charges that Deepwater Horizon rig owner Transocean did not adequately train workers in emergency procedures and so-called kick detection. (Houston Business Journal, March 4; Houston Chronicle, The Hill, Feb. 17)
BP has just won a lucrative oil contract in Russia.