BP Admits Ignoring Warnings ‘Fundamental Mistake’
May 26, 2010
(ChattahBox)—BP provided members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, a report on the oil giant’s internal investigation of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, in which it admitted ignoring several warning signs in the immediate hours before the deadly explosion on April 20. And several warning signs were also ignored in the 24-hour period, before the deadly disaster. Panel chairman Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and senior member Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) released a memo detailing the findings in the report, which reveal a perfect storm of incompetence, disregard for safety procedures and a breakdown in communication, which has resulted in one of the worst environmental disasters in our nation’s history.
The House Energy and Commerce panel’s memo points to several warning signs that were ignored immediately before the oil rig explosion, which killed 11 workers:
“The information from BP identifies several new warning signs of problems. According to BP there were three flow indicators from the well before the explosion. One was 51 minutes before the explosion when more fluid began flowing out of the well than was being pumped in. Another flow indicator was 41 minutes before the explosion when the pump was shut down for a “sheen” test, yet the well continued to flow instead of stopping and drill pipe pressure also unexpectedly increased. Then, 18 minutes before the explosion, abnormal pressures and mud returns were observed and the pump was abruptly shut down. The data suggests that the crew may have attempted mechanical interventions at that point to control the pressure, but soon after, the flow out and pressure increased dramatically and the explosion took place.”
Panel members pointed out that the report was preliminary, and raised new areas of inquiry. Of particular interest, are the additional warning signs that BP failed to act upon in the 24-hour period leading up to the explosion, which BP now admits were “fundamental” errors:
“As early as 5:05 p.m., almost 5 hours before the explosion, an unexpected loss of fluid was observed in the riser pipe, suggesting that there 2 were leaks in the annular preventer in the BOP.” [...]
“BP’s investigator indicated that a “fundamental mistake” may have been made here because this was an “indicator of a very large abnormality.”
Concerns were also raised about the quality of the cement work done by Haliburton before the explosion.
Additional areas of investigation will focus on a series of equipment failures, especially the blowout preventer:
“Several concerns about the blowout preventer were identified by BP including the failure of its emergency disconnect system (EDS), the failure of its automated mode function or deadman switch, the failure of the BOP’s shearing functions, and the failure of the remote operated vehicle interventions. The BP investigation has also raised concerns about the maintenance history, modification, inspection, and testing of the BOP.”
A BP spokesperson characterized the company’s internal report, as “what we believe to be a series of underlying failures” that caused the accident.
What a mess. And why again did the federal government permit a company like BP with a history of ignoring safety protocols to drill deep below the Gulf of Mexico?
Meanwhile, the oils is still gushing uncontrollably into the Gulf, destroying the coastal environment. BP plans to make a decision late Wednesday, on whether to attempt a “top-kill” procedure to cap the leaking well. BP’s CEO Tony Hayward, says the procedure has a a 60 percent to 70 percent chance of success.
The entire Congressional memo can be found here.