WASHINGTON — BP blamed a series of mechanical and human failures by its own crews and its contractors for the April 20 oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, escalating a blame game that is likely headed to the courts.
The oil company, releasing its long-awaited internal investigation into the Gulf disaster Wednesday, accepted a share of the responsibility but also took aim at failures on the part of contractors Transocean and Halliburton for shortcomings such as a “bad cement job” and a failure to spot problems.
“No single factor” caused the disaster that killed 11 workers and unleashed the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, the 234-page report says. “A complex and interlinked series of mechanical failures, human judgments, engineering design, operational implementation and team interfaces came together to allow the initiation and escalation of accidents.”
BP’s investigative team cited eight problems, including a pressure test “that was accepted when it should not have been ... weaknesses in the cement design and testing” and the failure of the blowout preventer to operate “probably because critical components were not working.”
During a 40-minute period before the explosion, the drilling rig crew also “failed to recognize and act on the influx of hydrocarbons into the well,” the report says.
“We have said from the beginning that the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon was a shared responsibility among many entities,” BP’s incoming chief executive Bob Dudley said in a statement.
Transocean, the drilling rig owner, assailed the BP report as “self-serving,” contending that BP’s “fatally flawed well design” set the stage for the disaster. BP’s investigative team disputed that well design was a problem.
Halliburton, which did the cementing, said it found a “number of substantial omissions and inaccuracies” in the report and “remains confident that all the work it performed ... was completed in accordance with BP’s specifications for its well construction plan and instructions.”
Reaction to the report from Capitol Hill also was swift.
“This report is not BP’s mea culpa,” said Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “Of their own eight key findings, they only explicitly take responsibility for half of one. BP is happy to slice up blame, as long as they get the smallest piece.”