Partner says BP hiding oil spill documents

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The company that leased the rig behind the Gulf of Mexico disaster has sharply criticized the oil giant, accusing it of hiding key data needed for a probe, according to a letter seen Thursday.

Transocean accused BP of trying to stop any other entity from probing the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig which killed 11 workers and unleashed the worst oil spill in history.

The charges risk turning into a new political debacle for BP as Transocean copied the strongly worded letter to three members of President Barack Obama's cabinet and leading members of Congress.

"BP has continued to demonstrate its unwillingness, if not outright refusal, to deliver even the most basic information to Transocean," Steven L. Roberts, a counsel at the company, wrote in the letter obtained by AFP.

"This is troubling, both in light of BP's frequently stated public commitment to openness and a fair investigation and because it appears that BP is withholding evidence in an attempt to prevent any other entity other than BP from investigating," he wrote.

Transocean said BP had stopped even acknowledging requests for documents that "only BP has and that are critical to an honest assessment of the incident and the identification of possible improvements for the entire industry."

Transocean, which is based in Switzerland, said earlier this month it was facing 249 lawsuits of claims over the disaster. The company has asked a court to limit its liabilities to 27 million dollars, saying it was not responsible.

Transocean is seeking 16 pieces of information from BP, including laboratory tests, logs that show transfers to the Deepwater Horizon and a chart identifying BP personnel involved on the oil rig.

© 2010 AFP

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