Lawsuit seeks to stop operations at BP's Atlantis platform

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, May 18 -- A former BP PLC contractor and a Washington, DC, nonprofit group asked a US District Court in Houston to issue a temporary injunction that would compel federal officials to temporarily prohibit BP from operating its Atlantis platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

Kenneth W. Abbott, a former contractor for the BP Atlantis project, requested the temporary injunction along with the group Food & Water Watch Inc. Abbott worked as a project control supervisor responsible for maintaining project documentation. 

The court filing named US Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar and also named Michael Saucier, director of the Gulf of Mexico region for the US Minerals Management Service.

The court filing alleges BP failed to provide complete and accurate engineering documents about the Atlantis platform’s subsea components.

Atlantis field, more than 150 miles south of New Orleans in 7,070 ft of water, has been on stream since October 2007, BP said.

The request for an injunction comes while BP works to stop an oil spill in the gulf following an Apr. 20 fire and explosion on Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible, which was drilling for BP and its partners on Mississippi Canyon Block 252.

BP said the Atlantis platform has an excellent safety and operational record. Previously, the company said Atlantis is compliant with all federal requirements. Earlier this year, some US congressional members called for a formal investigation into allegations of missing safety documentation for Atlantis.

The MMS has said it plans to report on questions about Atlantis by May 31.

BP responds
Responding to claims that flawed or missing documentation pose a threat to safe operation of the Atlantis platform, BP said it thoroughly investigated these claims when they were first made in 2009 and found them to be without substance.

“The investigation found that the operators on the platform had full access to the accurate, up-to-date drawings (topsides, hull, and subsea) necessary to operate the platform safely,” BP said in a May 17 news release.

A second BP investigation of the same allegations examined project document and filing procedures and had no bearing on operating or regulatory issues. After this review, BP made some procedural changes in the project execution plan, but the company said these actions had no connection with the safe operation of the platform.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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