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BP, partners trade blame for Gulf oil spill

Ottawa Citizen
Ben Perry

Disaster was result of ' sequence of failures,' company inquiry finds

BP sought to spread the blame for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill Wednesday as it defended itself against tens of billions of dollars in potential fines and legal liabilities.

As expected in the findings of its own inquiry, BP did not admit "gross negligence" for the April 20 explosion that killed 11 people and unleashed 4.9 million barrels of oil in the world's worst maritime spill.

The disaster was due to a "sequence of failures" BP said, as it exonerated its well design and apportioned a large share of the blame to mistakes made by rig owner Transocean and contractor Halliburton, which cemented the well.

"It is evident that a series of complex events, rather than a single mistake or failure, led to the tragedy," BP's outgoing chief executive Tony Hayward said in a summary of the 200-page report. "Multiple parties, including BP, Halliburton and Transocean, were involved."

The four-month probe, led by BP's head of safety and operations Mark Bly, is viewed as key to how BP plans to defend itself in legal proceedings involving the spill.

"This report likely does its job in providing ammo for BP in future court cases, where the avoidance of the charge of 'gross negligence' is critical," said Peter Hutton, an oil market analyst at NCB Stockbrokers.

BP said key failings included a "bad cement job" at the bottom of the well that allowed gas and liquids to flow up the production casing.

Additionally, the results of a negative pressure test were incorrectly accepted by BP and Transocean, while the rig's blow-out preventer on the seabed failed to automatically seal the well.

But Transocean dismissed the report, accusing BP of having designed a "fatally flawed" well.

"This is a self-serving report that attempts to conceal the critical factor that set the stage for the Macondo incident: BP's fatally flawed well design," said the Swiss-based group.

Halliburton said the report contained "substantial omissions and inaccuracies" and noted BP was responsible for overseeing and testing complex deepwater operations.

The U.S. government welcomed the report as a "piece of information that adds to our understanding."

"But it is not the be-all and end-end all of why it happened and what needs to happen in the future," retired Coast Guard admiral Thad Allen told reporters.

El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.


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