Transocean may have misinterpreted key indicators on a European oil rig

The damaged blow out preventer along with the Lower Marine Riser Package cap from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that caused the massive oil spill is extracted and put aboard the vessel Q4000 in the Gulf of Mexico.

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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The company that owned the oil rig which exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, leading to the BP oil disaster, had a near miss in Europe just four months before.

From London, the BBC's Jon Bithrey looks at a leaked report.


JON BITHREY: The reports details an incident last December on a rig off the British coast. This time, the rig wasn't owned by BP -- instead it was a Shell oil facility. But, the rig was operated by the same company as in the Gulf of Mexico -- Transocean.

The report says engineers may have misinterpreted key indicators that pressure was building up, leading to a surge of oil and gas. Luckily, unlike in the Gulf of Mexico, the blowout preventer worked.

Chairman of the United Kingdom's Parliamentary Energy Committee, Tim Yeo, says the report shows that things could have gotten as bad as they did in the Gult of Mexico.

TIM YEO: It's not clear that this was something which had been properly prepared for and it may have been more luck than judgment that got this under control. We don't want to see people working without the necessary kit -- without proper training and procedures -- and the result of that being a major spill.

Transocean says it reported the incident to safety authorities. But the revelation is sure to raise new concerns about how to prevent another Deepwater Horizon.

In London, I'm the BBC's Jon Bithrey, for Marketplace.

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