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Better management would “almost certainly” have stopped BP oil spill

The US presidential commission investigating the BP oil spill finds that lax controls and cost-cutting were the chief culprits.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the worst in environmental history, spilling 4.9 million barrels of oil into the sea.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the worst in environmental history, spilling 4.9 million barrels of oil into the sea.
Image: Matt Stamey/AP

BP AND OTHER companies involved in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill last summer had contributed to the spill – and the subsequent environmental disaster – as a result of their ruthless cost-cutting measures, an official report has found.

The final chapter of the US presidential commission’s report into the oil spill, which will be officially published in full next week, found that “systemic” shortcomings in BP, Halliburton and Transocean had contributed to the spill, and to the delay in fixing it.

BP’s safety controls were inadequate for the purpose required, the BBC quotes it as finding.

The wide-reaching nature of the shortcomings that led to the spill were not isolated to BP, however, and the likelihood of another similar spill was high, given the widespread practices within the oil drilling industry.

Transocean, the owners of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig which exploded on April 20 killing 11 workers and triggering the leak, said the procedures followed on board the rig had been pre-approved by US regulators and had been crafted by BP engineers.

Halliburton adopted a similar policy, saying any involvement it had was approved by BP itself.

Exxon Mobile chief executive Rex Tillerson has disputed the findings, saying he disagreed with the commission’s findings that the problems were industry-wide.

“The commission did not investigate the entire industry,” Reuters quotes him as saying. “It seems to ignore years of record of good performance, so I do not agree with that conclusion.”

It had previously been found that BP had deactivated many of the alarms ordinarily functional on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which it said had routinely sounded for minor safety concerns, to try and let staff on the rig get uninterrupted sleep at night.

Shares in BP rose slightly on opening in New York yesterday, and closed only moderately below their previous closing price, as the markets felt that blame for the spill had not lay at the feet of BP alone.

Yesterday’s closing price of $46.23 was well below the $60.48 peak recorded, however, before the explosion at the Maconda oil well on April 20.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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