Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
  Energy News  

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

Battle of oil titans as BP seeks to shift blame for spill

by Staff Writers
Chicago (AFP) Sept 8, 2010
BP sought to spread the blame for the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster Wednesday, setting off a battle of oil industry giants with tens of billions of dollars in potential fines and legal liabilities at stake.

The British energy giant released a report concluding that a "sequence of failures" were to blame for the April 20 explosion that killed 11 people and unleashed 4.9 million barrels of oil in the worst-ever maritime spill.

While admitting some mistakes, BP exonerated its well design and apportioned a large share of the blame to faults made by rig owner Transocean and contractor Halliburton, which cemented the well.

The contractors responded by calling the report flawed and self-serving, while also asserting that BP was ultimately responsible for overseeing and approving all work done on its well.

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

"This report likely does its job in providing ammo (ammunition) 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 and its investment partners Anadarko and Mitsui are financially responsible for the cleanup costs, fines and compensation for damages. Transocean has also been deemed a "responsible party" by the US government.

That responsibility could shift and fines could skyrocket if BP -- or any of the contractors -- are found to be guilty of gross negligence or willful misconduct.

The oil company 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.

"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.

Transocean dismissed the report, accusing BP of having designed a "fatally flawed" well and making "cost-saving decisions that increased risk -- in some cases, severely."

"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," while BP was responsible for overseeing and testing complex deepwater operations.

The report was also criticized by environmentalists, lawmakers and lawyers representing those who saw their livelihoods washed away by a black tide.

"This report is not BP's mea culpa," said Representative Edward Markey, who chairs the House subcommittee on energy and the environment.

"Of their own eight key findings, they only explicitly take responsibility for half of one. BP is happy to slice up blame, as long as they get the smallest piece."

It took 87 days to stem the flow of oil into the sea and hundreds of miles of coastline from Texas to Florida were sullied, killing wildlife and devastating tourism-dependent local economies.

US lawmakers have accused the oil giant of sacrificing safety to improve its profit margin, a practice Hayward denied during hostile congressional grilling in June. He announced he would quit the top job in October.

Under US law, fines could reach 4,300 dollars per barrel spilled, if negligence is proved.

BP could then theoretically face fines of up to 17.6 billion dollars for the 4.1 million barrels that poured into the sea -- another 800,000 barrels were siphoned up to ships.

The leaking Macondo well has now been secured but the disaster is being examined in a string of court cases and probes, including a criminal investigation by the US Department of Justice.

BP has already spent eight billion dollars trying to contain the disaster, an effort it forecast could eventually cost over 32.2 billion dollars.

Ratings agency Fitch meanwhile upgraded BP's credit rating three notches, citing an end to the threat of more leaks from the Macondo well.

The firm's market value slumped by tens of billions of dollars but its stock has recovered somewhat in recent weeks. Following the report's publication, BP shares closed up 1.32 percent.


Share This Article With Planet Earth DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook

Related Links
Powering The World in the 21st Century at

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

China says Japan handling of fishing boat incident 'absurd'
Beijing (AFP) Sept 9, 2010
China on Thursday called Japan's seizure of a Chinese trawler that collided with two Japanese coast guard vessels and the arrest of its captain "absurd", warning Tokyo that ties could suffer. The foreign ministry in Beijing said a "law enforcement ship" had been deployed to the area of the East China Sea where the collisions took place, near an island chain claimed by both nations, to protec ... read more

A Paradigm Shift Towards Sustainable Low Carbon Transport

Study Examines Turbine Effects On Yukon River Fish

Airbus-Led 'AIRE2' Trials To Spearhead Green Trajectories With A380

Steel blamed for Vietnam's power woes

China-US collaboration on clean energy research

China says Japan handling of fishing boat incident 'absurd'

Battle of oil titans as BP seeks to shift blame for spill

Oil mishap averted in Chilean rig fire

China sailing ahead in offshore wind power

Duke Energy Changes Focus Of Coastal Wind Demonstration Project With UNC

U.K. wind farms deny causing seal deaths

Mortenson Construction Building 100 Turbine Wind Farm In Illinois

KYOCERA To Install Solar Power Generating Systems At All Domestic Manufacturing Sites

Solar Frontier Supplies CIS Solar Panels

Forcing Mismatched Elements Together Could Yield Better Solar Cells

Three-Quarters Of New PV Systems Worldwide Were Installed In The EU In 2009

Egypt nuclear reactor broke down in April: atomic chief

German revives nuclear to green energy mix

Merkel sets stage for nuclear power battle

Germany backs Baltic nuclear power plant: Merkel

Biomass could yield chemical bonanza

Construction Starts On Municipal Waste-To-Biofuels Facility

Mascoma Acquires SunOpta BioProcess

Zero Discharge Sweet Sorghum Ethanol Process Development

China's Second Lunar Probe Chang'e-2 To Reach Lunar Orbit Faster Than Chang'e-1

China Finishes Construction Of First Unmanned Space Module

China Contributes To Space-Based Information Access A Lot

China Sends Research Satellite Into Space

Canada appoints new top climate change negotiator

French science vessel sails again on climate voyage

Sceptical green urges smart billions to fight warming

Impact Hypothesis Loses Its Sparkle

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement