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BP did not test cement after last minute change

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CHIOTAKIS: The presidential panel investigating the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico says British oil giant BP may not totally be to blame. The panel’s chief investigator claims Halliburton — which contracted to build the oil rig that exploded
and caused the spill — didn’t clearly inform BP the cement mix it used on the well was unstable. Overseas today, investors have been buying BP shares as a result.

Marketplace’s Stephen Beard is with us live from London to talk about it. Hi Stephen.

STEPHEN BEARD: Hello, Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: So why do investors seem to think this is good news for BP?

BEARD: Because it’s the first real sign that BP may not be solely to blame for the disaster. Here’s Nick MacGregor, an oil analyst with brokers Redmayne Bentley.

NICK MACGREGOR: Well, this is the first independent confirmation we’ve had of BP’s view that some of the contractors involved shared liability for the chain of events that led up to the blow out in the Gulf of Mexico. And financially this may well mean that they are now able to involve those parties in paying the bill for all of this.

But BP is certainly not the hook. The U.S. commissions chief investigator claims that BP was also aware that the cement used on the well was unstable.

CHIOTAKIS: And what about Halliburton? How does this affect Halliburton?

BEARD: Well the share price plunged yesterday. That speaks for itself. Halliburton has issued a statement repeating its claim that the well design caused the blow out, not the cement job, although it also acknowledged that it didn’t test the final cement mix after BP made a last minute change to the mix. These are of course, still early days Steve. The U.S. commission doesn’t report until next year. We will no doubt hear a lot more wrangling between BP and its contractors over who did what and when.

CHIOTAKIS: Marketplace’s Stephen Beard in London this morning. Stephen, thanks.

BEARD: OK Steve.

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