Halliburton man missed rig dangers

AN ENGINEER responsible for monitoring gas levels on BP’s ill-fated Deepwater
Horizon rig missed clues it was about to explode because he had gone out for a cigarette, a US panel probing the accident heard yesterday.

Joseph E. Keith, who worked for Halliburton’s Sperry subsidiary, failed to see pressure data indicating the well was filling up with explosive crude oil and natural gas because he had left his post for 10 minutes to smoke and have a cup of coffee, he told the US Coast Guard Interior Department panel in Houston.

Keith told panel officials he would have warned fellow workers they were in danger if he had seen the data, according to a transcript of the hearing .

The explosion on the rig on April 20 led to 11 deaths and 17 injuries and caused about 206m gallons of oil to spill into the Gulf of Mexico from the ruptured Macondo well, causing an environmental disaster.

The panel is due to issue its report on the disaster by March 27.