BP Mostly, But Not Entirely, to Blame for Gulf Spill

Coast Guard report shares blame but says BP made critical decisions that led to disaster

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The final U.S. government report on last year's massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill came out on Wednesday, and while it puts most of the fault with BP, it passes some blame to Deep Water Horizon operator Transocean and contractor Halliburton, which laid faulty cement in the well. When that cement job failed after the Deep Water Horizon well exploded in April 2010, the oil began gushing from the ocean floor. BP, however, was the one that made "a series of decisions that complicated cementing operations, added risk, and may have contributed to the ultimate failure of the cement job" in the days leading up to the disaster, the Associated Press wrote, summarizing the report from a joint panel of investigators from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. The AP follows up:

The report said the decisions included using only one cement barrier and BP's choice to set the production casing in a location in the Macondo well that created additional risk of influx of oil or gas. The casing is a steel pipe placed in a well to maintain its integrity.

The panel said BP failed to communicate these decisions and the increasing operational risks to Transocean.

While the report recognizes that other companies had roles in the disaster, the panel said that BP was the final decisionmaker.

"BP, as the designated operator under BOEMRE regulations, was ultimately responsible for conducting operations at Macondo in a way that ensured the safety and protection of personnel, equipment, natural resources, and the environment," the panel concluded.

Even though the bulk of the blame went to BP, The Guardian noted that its share price had jumped on the report's release because it didn't squarely blame the oil giant.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.