Agencies discuss access to Deepwater Horizon BOP

(Story updated Nov. 10, see last two paragraphs)

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, Nov. 9 -- The US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board and a federal Joint Investigation Team (JIT) are discussing who gets direct access during a forensic analysis of the Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible’s failed blowout preventer.

An Apr. 20 blowout of BP PLC’s deepwater Macondo well on Mississippi Canyon Block 252 resulted in a fire and explosion on Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon, killing 11 workers. A massive oil spill resulted in the Gulf of Mexico, and investigators are trying to figure out why the BOP failed.

Previously, the US Department of the Interior hired Det Norske Veritas (USA) Inc. to conduct the BOP forensic testing on the Deepwater Horizon BOP and lower marine riser package at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Michoud Assembly facility in New Orleans. The forensic testing awaits finalization of BOP testing protocols.

JIT represents the US Coast Guard and the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement. JIT previously received a report deadline extension and now is scheduled to issue its report on the drilling accident and resulting oil spill on Mar. 27, 2011 (OGJ, Nov. 1, 2010, Newsletter).

As of midday Nov. 9, CSB said it had not received a response from DOI and BOEMRE regarding various issues that were discussed in a Nov. 5 conference call.

On Nov. 1, JIT selected which companies and agencies are to be represented on a six-member Level 3 technical working group that will observe the forensic analysis as it is being performed. In addition, there is a Level 2 group whose members will watch the process on closed-circuit television.

Members of the Level 3 working group will be consulted by the forensic examiner if there are any decisions that must be made during the analysis that were not foreseen in a final test plan.

JIT has said the Level 3 working group will include one expert each from Cameron International, Transocean, BP, the US Department of Justice, an expert representing plaintiffs in lawsuits, and an expert nominated by CSB. Cameron manufactured the BOP.
CSB has requested two slots for the Level 3 working group. In June, the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce asked CSB to investigate causes of the Macondo well blowout and the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

“We need for the CSB investigation to operate independently of JIT while of course cooperating in every way to avoid duplication or delays,” a CSB spokeswoman told OGJ on Nov. 9. CSB is an independent agency that acts separately from investigations by other US government agencies.

CSB Investigator Donald Holmstrom wrote DNV on Nov. 4 asking for written assurance that DNV will take special care to preserve from alternation or destruction the BOP and any other tangible objects recovered from or related to the Deepwater Horizon to which DNV may have access.

A source familiar with the negotiations who was not authorized to speak on the record on behalf of the JIT, said Nov. 10 that the JIT was committed to preserving, securing, and examining the evidence in accordance with standards developed in consultation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“In carrying out these responsibilities, the JIT has been open and transparent to interagency partners and the public,” the source said. “This has included cooperating closely with the CSB…. It is imperative that the investigation into the BP oil spill continue in a timely fashion in order to hold the responsible parties fully accountable for this unprecedented disaster.”

Contact Paula Dittrick at

Related Articles

PHMSA proposes pipeline accident notification regulations

07/02/2015 The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has proposed new federal oil and gas pipeline accident and notification regulations. ...

FourPoint Energy to acquire Anadarko basin assets from Chesapeake

07/02/2015 FourPoint Energy LLC, a privately owned Denver company, plans to acquire oil and gas assets from Chesapeake Energy Corp. subsidiaries Chesapeake Ex...

Puma Energy completes purchase of Murco’s UK refinery, terminals

07/02/2015 Singapore-based Puma Energy Group Pte. has completed its purchase of UK midstream and downstream assets from Murco Petroleum Ltd., a subsidiary of ...

BP to settle federal, state Deepwater Horizon claims for $18.7 billion

07/02/2015 BP Exploration & Production Inc. has agreed in principle to settle all federal and state claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon inciden...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil prices plummet on crude inventory build, Iran deadline extension

07/02/2015 Oil prices plummeted more than $2/bbl July 1 to settle at a 2-month low on the New York market after a weekly government report showed the first ri...

API to issue recommended practice to address pipeline safety

07/01/2015 The American Petroleum Institute expects to issue a new recommended practice in another few weeks that addresses pipeline safety issues, but the tr...

Shell Midstream Partners takes interest in Poseidon oil pipeline

07/01/2015 Shell Midstream Partners LP has completed its acquisition of 36% equity interest in Poseidon Oil Pipeline Co. LLC from Equilon Enterprises LLC, a s...

MARKET WATCH: Oil prices decline as US crude inventories post first gain in 9 weeks

07/01/2015 Oil prices on July 1 surrendered much of their gains from the day before after the release of a government report showing the first rise in US crud...

FWS issues Shell letter of authorization on Chukchi Sea lease

07/01/2015 The US Fish & Wildlife Service issued Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc. a letter of authorization (LOA) related to the potential disturbance of polar b...
White Papers

Definitive Guide to Cybersecurity for the Oil & Gas Industry

In the Oil and Gas industry, there is no single adversary and no single threat to the information tech...

UAS Integration for Infrastructure: More than Just Flying

Oil and gas companies recognize the benefits that the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) c...

Solutions to Financial Distress Resulting from a Weak Oil and Gas Price Environment

The oil and gas industry is in the midst of a prolonged worldwide downturn in commodity prices. While ...
Sponsored by

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts

Better Data, Better Analytics, Better Decisions

When Tue, Oct 27, 2015

The Oil & Gas industry has large amounts of data stored in multiple systems which are purpose built for certain tasks. However, good decisions require insights based upon the data in all of these systems. These systems in turn do not talk to each other. So the process of analyzing data, gaining insights, and making decisions is a slow one and often a flawed one. Good decisions require accurate analytics and accurate analytics require superior/sustainable data quality and governance. This webinar focuses on:

  • The importance of data quality and governance
  • How technological advances are making data quality and governance sustainable in order to get the accurate analytics to make solid decisions.

Please join us for this webcast sponsored by Seven Lakes Technologies and Noah Consulting.


Operating a Sustainable Oil & Gas Supply Chain in North America

When Tue, Oct 20, 2015

Short lead times and unpredictable conditions in the Oil & Gas industry can create costly challenges in supply chains. By implementing a LEAN culture of continuous improvement you can eliminate waste, increase productivity and gain end-to-end visibility leading to a sustainable and well-oiled supply chain.

Please join us for this webcast sponsored by Ryder System, Inc.


On Demand

Leveraging technology to improve safety & reliability

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

Attend this informative webinar to learn more about how to leverage technology to meet the new OSHA standards and protect your employees from the hazards of arc flash explosions.


The Resilient Oilfield in the Internet of Things World

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

As we hear about the hype surrounding the Internet of Things, the oil and gas industry is questioning what is different than what is already being done. What is new?  Using sensors and connecting devices is nothing new to our mode of business and in many ways the industry exemplifies many principles of an industrial internet of things. How does the Internet of Things impact the oil and gas industry?

Prolific instrumentation and automation digitized the industry and has changed the approach to business models calling for a systems led approach.  Resilient Systems have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining their central purpose.  A resilient system, such as Maximo, allows an asset intensive organization to leverage connected devices by merging real-time asset information with other critical asset information and using that information to create a more agile organization.  

Join this webcast, sponsored by IBM, to learn how about Internet of Things capabilities and resilient systems are impacting the landscape of the oil and gas industry.


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!


Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected