Gulf oil spill: BP made ‘reckless decisions’ in Gulf drilling, Waxman says

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House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) on Thursday assailed BP for a ‘series of reckless decisions’ that led to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon that killed 11 people and started the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Waxman’s staff said in a report to committee members that BP made numerous decisions that ‘increased the risk of a well control problem, while neglecting additional safety precautions’ before the Deepwater Horizon explosion.’BP chose a well design that had only two barriers to prevent flow of dangerous gases instead of using a design that had multiple barriers; BP ignored the advice of its contractor, Halliburton, and chose a cement sealing approach for the well that was predicted to fail; BP failed to conduct a key test to evaluate the sufficiency of the cementing job; BP failed to fully circulate well fluids to facilitate better cementing; and BP did not install a key piece of equipment at the wellhead prior to the explosion,’ the staff said in a report. ‘All of these decisions saved time and money for BP, but increased risks.’


The report and Waxman’s comments came as his committee passed the ‘Blowout Prevention Act,’ aimed at establishing new standards for redundancy, testing and third-party certification of the well-top apparatus that is supposed to shut off an unexpected surge of oil. The bill also would require third-party certifications for safe well design and cementing, among other things.

‘This bill intends to strike that delicate balance to be as aggressive as possible to prevent this from ever happening again but at the same time to allow reasonable development to occur,’ said Texas Rep. Joe Barton, the panel’s top Republican.

The report is available at the committee’s website.

-- Richard Simon in Washington