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US releases BP emails

BP is reeling from a fresh PR disaster after US Congressional investigators released a string of damaging emails predating the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig.

Confidential messages exchanged by BP executives in the days before the Gulf of Mexico disaster showed the oil major was “horribly negligent” in its approach to safety aboard the platform, a senior American politician said.

In one email, BP staffer Brian Morel described the project as a “nightmare well which has everyone all over the place”. In another message, BP employee Mark Hafle called the Macondo site a “crazy well for sure”.

The most incriminating exchange published by US authorities dated to 16 April, just four days before Deepwater Horizon burst into flames.

BP is said to have ignored advice from services firm Halliburton to use 21 centralisers to stabilise the final string of casing down the well, instead using just six.

Recognising the lack of centralisers would make centering the piping difficult, one BP staffer wrote: “But, who cares, it’s done, end of story, will probably be fine and we’ll get a good cement job.”

Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and lead investigator into the Gulf of Mexico spill, cited an independent expert’s view that BP’s behaviour was “horribly negligent”.

He said: “They violated what their own employees were recommending they do, they violated their own industry practices and they ignored the recommendation of contractors who told them to do certain tests.”