Feds Declare BP the Winner in Gulf Oil Spill Blame Game

Before the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 people and triggered the largest oil spill in history, BP’s main priority was cost-cutting, and the company let little things — like, say, effective risk assessment and minimization — fall by the wayside. That’s the conclusion reached after a federal investigation into the Gulf Oil spill. Findings are detailed in a comprehensive report issued earlier this week.

Other companiesĀ involved in the incident don’t escape blame, including Transocean (which owned the Deepwater Horizon rig) and Halliburton (which did cement work on a well that would later explode). But the report puts the majority of fault squarely on BP’s shoulders.

A few of the more scathing findings from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Resource Management and Enforcement (BOERME):

  • In the weeks leading up to the blowout on April 20, the BP team made a series of operational decisions that reduced costs and increased risk.
  • BP personnel in Houston did not transfer critical information to rig personnel…[T]his communication failure, which resulted in the rig crew being unaware of increasing operational risks, may have created a false sense of security among those on the rig.
  • BP personnel were compensated and their performance reviewed, at least in part, based upon their abilities to control or reduce costs.
  • An “operational” performance measure for BP drilling personnel was delivering a well with costs under the authorized expenditure amount. There was no comparable performance measure for occupational safety achievements.
  • In the weeks leading up to April 20, the BP Macondo team made a series of operational decisions that reduced costs and increased risks.
  • A number of BP decisions were not subjected to a formal risk assessment process. In addition, the Panel found no evidence indicating that, at the time of the blowout, BP had in place any policy or practice to assess whether safe operations were being compromised to achieve cost savings.

There’s already talk that the BOERME report — and its fairly damning conclusions as to BP’s liability for the Deepwater disaster — will add tens of billions to BP’s civil liability for the spill. And the federal government’s findings may even trigger federal criminal charges against BP.