Complacent culture at BP led to oil spill

Marion Dakers
A CULTURE of complacency at BP, Transocean and Halliburton contributed to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in April, an investigation into the disaster heard yesterday.

William K Reilly, co-chairman of the US government’s probe into the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig, said yesterday investigators had uncovered “a suite of bad decisions” that showed there was “emphatically not a culture of safety on that rig”.

Reilly said the three firms were in need of a top to bottom safety reform, and added: “We are aware of what appeared to be a rush to completion at Macondo, and one must ask whether the drive from that made people determine they couldn’t wait for sound cement, or the right centralisers.”

The panel, which was set up by President Barack Obama a month after the spill, yesterday heard from industry experts who tried to untangle the decisions made by rig workers leading up to the blast.

“I know that there was pressure on this group of people to get done and move on,” said Steve Lewis, a drilling engineer at Seldovia Marine Services who said he had often worked with BP.

Bob Graham, a former Democratic senator who is also chairing the commission, emphasised that “there was no evidence that there were conscious decisions made to trade-off safety for profit” but added “there were a series of almost inexplicable failures” ahead of the disaster.

The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling has held five hearings to investigate the cause of the disaster. It has until 12 January to present its findings, and has the power to recommend a change in the law and industry practices.