US Federal Investigators of the Coast Guard Interior Department have been busy looking into whether the BP oil giant cut corners and are ultimately responsible for the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that killed 11 workers. The investigators are trying to determine if it was indeed an unfortunate accident or if it could have been prevented.
Investigators are summing up that BP cut corners and compromised safety. They were trying to save time and money when the well was already over budget and behind schedule.
The Investigators have identified “15 risk based decisions”, including BP’s decision to not install a well liner that would prevent natural gas from erupting out of the well and up to the rig. Despite a BP email citing the time and $7-10 million price tag of the liner, BP team leader John Guide testified that cost-cutting was not a factor.
Certain diagnostic tests would have given clearer indications that the well was sending kicks of natural gas. For instance BP chose not to conduct a $118,000 integrity test of the well’s cement plug, or a circulation test to prepare the well for cementing, which fills gaps from which gas and oil could escape.
The contractor Halliburton warned BP two days before the explosion that BP’s plan to use fewer centralizers in the well hole could create severe gas flow problems and recommended installment of 15 centralizers to remedy the problem. BP team leader John Guide wrote an email complaining of the time it would take to install the centralizer and was annoyed they had been ordered. Once they came in they were the wrong size but replacements were never ordered. Guide could not explain why.
BP rival Conoco-Philips Chief Executive James Mulva in an interview stated he thought the disaster “was preventalble and the response capability was inadequate.”
Four oil companies, including Conoco Philips are launching a $1 billion effort to develop a new rapid response system to deal with a deep water well blowout.