BP gulf spill triggers new row

Marion Dakers
BP admitted it made several mistakes that led to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill yesterday, but tried to deflect some blame to rig operator Transocean and contractor Halliburton in the first detailed report into the cause of the disaster.

BP claimed in the report that “a sequence of failures involving a number of different parties” led to the explosion that killed 11 workers and caused 4.9m gallons of oil to leak into the Gulf and has cost $8bn (£5.2bn) to clean up so far.

The oil giant conceded that managers at the Deepwater Horizon rig failed to spot unusual pressure levels and leaks in the oil pipe 40 minutes before the blowout.

The ventilation system on the BP-designed rig probably helped the fuel reach the engine room and ignite, said Mark Bly, BP head of safety and author of the report. However, he added that Transocean workers also missed the warning signs, and that Halliburton’s cement work failed to properly contain the oil. Outgoing chief executive Tony Hayward said “it would appear unlikely that the well design contributed to the incident”, but other companies involved in the Macondo well dispute this finding.

Transocean slammed the 193-page dossier, calling it 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.

“In both its design and construction, BP made a series of cost-saving decisions that increased risk – in some cases, severely.”

Halliburton also hit back, claiming it has “noticed a number of substantial omissions and inaccuracies” in the report, and that it had carried out work to BP specifications.

All three firms could face colossal legal bills from those affected by the spill if found to be responsible.