A report released today by BP says that it is not the only one to blame for this summer's oil spill. "No single factor" caused the disaster, BP said in a press release. 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."
Additionally, according to its statement, "decisions made by 'multiple companies and work teams' contributed to the accident which [the report] says arose from 'a complex and interlinked series of mechanical failures, human judgments, engineering design, operational implementation and team interfaces.'"
The report is the result of four month's of investigation, and was conducted "independently by a team of over 50 technical and other specialists" and lead by BP's head of safety and operations. Still, the release admits that the those specialists were partly "drawn from inside BP."
“The investigation report provides critical new information on the causes of this terrible accident," BP’s outgoing chief executive Tony Hayward said. "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."
For the most part, the report and the release try to downplay BP's responsibility for the accident. “Based on the report, it would appear unlikely that the well design contributed to the incident, as the investigation found that the hydrocarbons flowed up the production casing through the bottom of the well,” Hayward said.
Presenting a unified front, BP’s incoming chief executive Bob Dudley shared the sentiment: “We have said from the beginning that the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon was a shared responsibility among many entities. This report makes that conclusion even clearer, presenting a detailed analysis of the facts and recommendations for improvement both for BP and the other parties involved.
Among the report's findings:
- The cement and shoe track barriers –- and in particular the cement slurry that was used –- at the bottom of the Macondo well failed to contain hydrocarbons within the reservoir, as they were designed to do, and allowed gas and liquids to flow up the production casing;
- The results of the negative pressure test were incorrectly accepted by BP and Transocean, although well integrity had not been established;
- Over a 40-minute period, the Transocean rig crew failed to recognise and act on the influx of hydrocarbons into the well until the hydrocarbons were in the riser and rapidly flowing to the surface;
- After the well-flow reached the rig it was routed to a mud-gas separator, causing gas to be vented directly on to the rig rather than being diverted overboard;
- The flow of gas into the engine rooms through the ventilation system created a potential for ignition which the rig’s fire and gas system did not prevent;
- Even after explosion and fire had disabled its crew-operated controls, the rig’s blow-out preventer on the sea-bed should have activated automatically to seal the well. But it failed to operate, probably because critical components were not working.
Of note, and to be expected, is the curious new name that BP has given the oil spill. Instead of calling it the "Deepwater Horizon" disaster, or referring to itself in the name, the company is now calling it the "Macondo well tragedy."
You can view a video presentation of the report here.