BP agrees with core conclusions on Macondo blowout, oil spill

BP PLC said it agreed with the core conclusion of a joint report that the deepwater Macondo well blowout and resulting explosion and fire on Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater semisubmersible stemmed from multiple causes and decisions involving BP and contractors Transocean and Halliburton Co.

The Deepwater Horizon Joint Investigation Team (JIT) released its final report on Sept. 14. JIT represented investigations done on behalf of the US Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (OGJ Online, Sept. 14, 2011).

BP operated the Macondo well, which spilled nearly 5 million bbl of oil offshore Louisiana. Eleven crew members on the Deepwater Horizon semi died in an Apr. 20, 2010, explosion and fire. Another 115 people evacuated the rig, which later sank. Halliburton handled the cement work on the well.

“From the outset, BP acknowledged its role in the accident and has taken concrete steps to further enhance safety and risk management throughout its global operations, including the implementation of new voluntary standards and practices in the Gulf of Mexico that exceed current regulatory requirements and strengthen the oversight of contractors,” BP said in a news release.

“We continue to encourage other parties to acknowledge their roles in the accident and make changes to help prevent similar accidents in the future,” BP added.

Transocean told OGJ that it took “strong exception to criticisms of the Horizon drill crew.”

JIT’s report concluded BP and Transocean employees “misinterpreted anomalies” during tests done on cement barriers, and that they did not immediately detect hydrocarbons flowing from the well. At the time of the blowout, drilling was completed. The rig crew was securing the well for temporary abandonment before the semi left the site, the report said.

“The report confirms that the primary cause of the incident was the catastrophic failure of the cement in the Macondo well, and finally puts to rest all previous allegations that improper maintenance of the BOP contributed to the tragedy,” Transocean said of the blowout preventer.

“As the report rightly concludes, the magnitude of the hydrocarbon release made the ignition and explosion onboard the Deepwater Horizon unavoidable,” Transocean said.

A spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute said JIT’s report and the oil and gas industry have focused on similar issues. JIT’s report included recommendations for continued improvement of the safety of offshore operations.

Andy Radford, API’s senior policy advisor, said, “The recommendations made in this report are a testament to the industry’s ability to act deliberately, effectively, quickly, and with an emphasis on continuous improvement.”

He noted the industry formed task forces to examine offshore safety systems, and those task forces developed more than 50 recommendations for the US Department of the Interior and other government agencies.

“Continued improvement on offshore safety is an industry priority, and we work towards constant improvement through industry standards and recommended practices,” Radford said. “API and the task forces will thoroughly review all recommendations. Some of the issues are already being considered in API’s RP 96 Recommendations A1, A4, and B4.”

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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