Halliburton, BP 'had tests showing Macondo well cement unstable'

29 October 2010 09:27  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Halliburton and BP had tests that showed the cement used to seal the Macondo oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was unstable before the blowout that killed 11 people and caused a major environmental disaster, US investigators said late on Thursday.

In a letter to President Barack Obama's national commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and offshore drilling, its chief counsel, Fred Bartlit, said the cement job may have been pumped without any laboratory results indicating that the foam cement slurry would be stable.

These finding were contrary to earlier claims made by oil contractor Halliburton that tests had shown the cement was stable.

“Halliburton and BP both had results in March showing that a very similar foam slurry design to the one actually pumped at the Macondo well would be unstable, but neither acted upon the data,” Bartlit said.

The rig explosion on 20 April killed 11 workers. It caused a huge oil leak, which led to the pollution of the shoreline and disruption to fishing, before the leaking well was successfully plugged in August.

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig was owned by Transcoean and was under contract to BP.

Bartlit said in the letter that even if the commission’s concerns regarding the foam slurry design were well founded, “the story of the blowout does not turn solely on the quality of the Macondo cement job”.

He added that cementing failures are not uncommon and that the oil industry has developed tests to indentify these failures and have methods in place to remedy deficient cement jobs.

“BP and/or Transocean personnel misinterpreted or chose not to conduct such tests at the Macondo well,” said Bartlit.

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By: Hilde Ovrebekk
+44 20 8652 3214

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