BP Spill: Ripples

Report: BP ignored warning signs on oil rig

Janet Babin May 26, 2010

The House report was compiled from internal documents from all companies involved in the incident — BP, Transocean, Halliburton and Cameron — and outlines oil crew’s comments and concerns in the hours leading up to the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig. Workers reported several abnormalities in technical tests that were done on the well as they attempted to cap it temporarily, including problems with the cementing process, which failed to stop the the well from flowing, and mounting pressure within the well, which hit 1,400 pounds per square inch despite crew efforts to alleviate the problem. The report also raises questions about the blowout preventer, the safety valve that could have sealed the well.

Dr. Clifford Jones, an engineering expert at the U.K.’s University of Aberdeen, says the pressure within the well was higher than what is acceptable. “You want there to be some pressure in a well, but not that much,” Jones says. “That’s 90 times the pressure of the atmosphere. It would tell you to expect rapid discharge of oil and gas.”

BP responds

BP CEO Tony Hayward said it was too early to say who was at fault for the rig explosion, as several companies were involved in the incident. Federal officials will continue to explore BP’s role in the disaster as it takes more testimony from rig survivors later today. President Obama heads back to the Gulf Coast this Friday for the second time; if BP can’t cap the well today, pressure will likely force The White House to take over the operation.

Plugging the leak

Meanwhile, BP has not yet decided whether to proceed with a top-kill procedure to plug the oil leak in the gulf. Top kill would drill heavy materials into the gusher and then put cement on top. BP had planned to try it today, but now they’re not so sure. Barbara Shook, Houston bureau chief of Energy Intelligence Group, says BP is undecided about the procedure because “they’re analyzing every aspect of the water currents, water temperatures — anything that might cause the effort to not go as they have designed.”

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