UpdateBP touts safety changes as management failure cited for spill

06 January 2011 16:15  [Source: ICIS news]

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BP spill siteLONDON (ICIS)--BP said on Thursday it had instituted significant changes designed to further strengthen safety and risk management following the release of a US report from the commission set up by President Barack Obama on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which attacked the company on management failure.

The report said that “most of the mistakes and oversights at Macondo can be traced back to a single overarching failure - a failure of management”.

“Better management by BP, Halliburton and Transocean would almost certainly have prevented the blowout by improving the ability of individuals involved to identify the risks they faced, and to properly evaluate, communicate, and address them. A blowout in Deepwater was not a statistical inevitability,” it added.

The report was an advance chapter from the US Oil Spill Commission, which is due to release its full report on the spill on 11 January.

The report said that decision-making processes at the Macondo well did not adequately ensure that personnel fully considered the risks created by time- and money-saving decisions.

“Whether purposeful or not, many of the decisions that BP, Halliburton, and Transocean made that increased the risk of the Macondo blowout clearly saved those companies significant time (and money),” the report said.

“The problem is that, at least in regard to BP’s Macondo team, there appears to have been no formal system for ensuring that alternative procedures were in fact equally safe,” it added.

BP said in a statement that it supported the commission's efforts to determine the causes of the Deepwater Horizon accident, and had co-operated fully with its investigation.

The UK-based oil major said that even prior to the conclusion of the investigation, it had instituted significant changes designed to further strengthen safety and risk management.

“These changes include the creation of a new Safety & Operational Risk division, reporting directly to group CEO Bob Dudley, that will provide independent oversight of operational decisions involving safety," said BP.

The company added that the commission’s findings also supported its own internal investigation, which concluded that "the accident was the result of multiple causes, involving multiple companies”.

Halliburton said the report acknowledged that cementing an oil well “is an inherently uncertain process and things can go wrong even under optimal conditions”.

However, it added that a cement bond log test (CBL) is the only means to test the integrity of the cement bond and said BP chose not to run the CBL.

“Had BP properly interpreted the negative tests, the tests would have revealed any problems with the cement job,” said Halliburton in a statement.

“Halliburton acted at the direction of BP, as acknowledged in several places in the National Commission report. The report also acknowledges the restraints BP put on our cement design,” it said.

It added that it felt the commission had selectively omitted information provided to them in response to their numerous inquiries.

Rig operator Transocean also said BP was in charge of procedures ahead of the accident at the Deepwater Horizon.

“Consistent with industry standards, the procedures being conducted in the final hours were crafted and directed by BP engineers and approved in advance by federal regulators,” it said. 

“Based on the limited information made available to them, the Transocean crew took appropriate actions to gain control of the well. They were well trained and considered to be among the best in the business,” the company said in a statement.

The explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on 20 April 2010 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.

Additional reporting by Ben DuBose

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By: Hilde Ovrebekk
+44 20 8652 3214

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