BP CEO Tony Hayward will appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on Thursday, and the top Democrats on that panel have a few questions for him. Full committee chairman Henry Waxman and subcommittee chairman Bart Stupak have been investigating the spill over the past month, and today they sent a 14-page letter to Hayward detailing some questions they have for him.
At the time of the blowout, the Macondo well was significantly behind schedule. This appears to have created pressure to take shortcuts to speed finishing the well. In particular, the Committee is focusing on five crucial decisions made by BP: (I) the decision to use a well design with few barriers to gas flow; (2) the failure to use a sufficient number of "centralizers" to prevent channeling during the cement process; (3) the failure to run a cement bond log to evaluate the effectiveness of the cement job; (4) the failure to circulate potentially gas-bearing drilling muds out of the well; and (5) the failure to secure the wellhead with a lockdown sleeve before allowing pressure on the seal from below. The common feature of these five decisions is that they posed a trade-off between cost and well safety.