Cost-cutting by BP added significantly to the danger of an explosion at the company’s Gulf of Mexico oil well. It appears that BP made decisions that increased the risk of a blowout to save the company time or expense. Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Bart Stupak of Michigan said in a letter sent to BP’s CEO, Tony Hayward, “If this is what happened, BP’s carelessness and complacency have inflicted a heavy toll on the Gulf, its inhabitants, and the workers on the rig.” The more we learn about the explosion, and the weeks and months leading up to it, the worse things look for BP.
The letter from committee chairman Waxman and subcommittee head Stupak listed a series of “shortcuts to speed finishing” the work. They quoted a BP engineer who called it a “nightmare well” and asked Hayward to respond in his testimony. The 14-page letter lays out the mistakes BP made in a way that is both understandable and damning. The lawmakers described five “questionable decisions” by BP before the April 20th explosion, including the use of a less robust well design, failure to anchor the well’s casing using a process recommended under industry practices and cutting short procedures to ensure cementing was sound. The decision on testing the cement was called “horribly negligent” by an expert the committee consulted.
While BP’s conduct has been very bad, we must not forget that there were other companies involved. Sometimes, companies whose conduct might not be as bad as the chief wrongdoer are virtually ignored and not looked at as carefully as they should be. We won’t let that happen. Transocean, Halliburton, and Cameron International won’t escape paying for their share of the losses and damages caused by their wrongdoing.
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