Several sides to blame for Gulf of Mexico spill: BP

8th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Failures by several parties led to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, British energy group BP concluded in the results of an internal inquiry published on Wednesday, accepting some of the blame.

"No single factor caused the Macondo well tragedy. Rather, a sequence of failures involving a number of different parties led to the explosion and fire which killed 11 people and caused widespread pollution in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year," BP said in a summary of the report.

BP said decisions made by "multiple companies and work teams", including itself, contributed to the accident which arose from "a complex and interlinked series of mechanical failures, human judgments, engineering design" and communication breakdowns.

The company has already rejected any suggestion that it was guilty of gross negligence over the spill that spewed an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf, but faces potential multi-billion-dollar lawsuits.

The report looked into the causes of the explosion at a BP-operated oil rig in April which killed 11 workers and caused the worst spill in US history.

It also highlight failings by the rig's owner Transocean and Halliburton, which had cemented the well.

"The investigation report provides critical new information on the causes of this terrible accident," said BP's outgoing chief executive Tony Hayward.

"It is evident that a series of complex events, rather than a single mistake or failure, led to the tragedy. Multiple parties, including BP, Halliburton and Transocean, were involved."

The four-month probe, led by BP's head of safety and operations Mark Bly, is viewed as key to how BP defends itself against legal proceedings involving the spill, which followed an explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20.

The leaking Macondo well has now been secured but the disaster is being examined in a string of court cases and probes, including a criminal investigation being carried out by the US Department of Justice.

BP has already spent eight billion dollars (6.3 billion euros) trying to contain the disaster and has forecast that it will eventually cost the group more than 32.2 billion dollars after clean-up costs and compensation are taken into account.

US lawmakers have accused the oil giant of sacrificing safety to improve its profit margin but Hayward denied this during a hostile grilling in Congress in June.

Hayward subsequently announced he would quit the top job in October.

© 2010 AFP

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