A top-level report into last year’s Gulf of Mexico explosion has laid much of the blame for the disaster on BP, but two US companies did not escape criticism.
The incident, which killed 11 workers and led to more than 200million gallons of oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico, was caused by poor management, mistakes and a faulty cement job, according to the final report into the incident.
The investigation found that major US oil service companies Transocean and Halliburton also played a part in the catastrophe and said increased vigilance by the two companies and BP could have reduced the likelihood of the blow-out occurring.
The report examined a cement seal on the well that was put in place the day before the explosion on April 20, 2010. It said that, in the days leading up to the incident, BP made a series of decisions that complicated cementing operations, added risk, and may have contributed to the ultimate failure of the cement job.
The report said Trans-ocean, as owner of the Deepwater Horizon, was responsible for conducting safe operations and for protecting people onboard, while contractor Halliburton carried out cementing operations.
The details were contained in a report by an investigation team from the US Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), the agency which regulates offshore drilling in the US.
The report said: “BP, as the designated operator under BOEMRE regulations, was ultimately responsible for conducting operations at Macondo in a way that ensured the safety and protection of personnel, equipment, natural resources, and the environment.”
The fallout from the disaster has also been felt in the UK and across Europe.
At the Offshore Europe exhibition in Aberdeen last week, Energy Minister Charles Hendry unveiled a £9million subsea capping device created to seal off an uncontrolled well in the event of a major incident in UK waters.
Two days ago, the European Parliament rejected proposals for a moratorium on new offshore oil and gas exploration, which had been put forward to allow lessons to be learned from the Gulf of Mexico disaster.
In the US report published yesterday, the federal team also said BP made decisions blindly and without assessing risk, and in some cases skipped internal processes the company relied on to evaluate the potential dangers of decisions.
Last night, BP said it agreed with the core conclusions of the report that the accident was the result of multiple causes involving more than one company.
A spokesman said: “From the outset, BP acknowledged its role in the accident and has taken 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.”
Meanwhile, it has emerged that a BP scientist identified a previously unreported deposit of flammable gas that could have played a role in the spill.
BP failed to divulge the finding to US government investigators for as long as a year, according to the Associated Press news service. While engineering experts differ on the extent to which the 2ft-wide swathe of gas-bearing sands helped cause the disaster, the finding raises the spectre of further legal and financial troubles for BP. It could also raise the stakes in the multibillion-dollar court battle between the companies involved.