8 Key Failures Led to Gulf Oil Spill, BP Report Says

BY Jenny Marder  September 8, 2010 at 2:15 PM EDT

In its long-awaited internal report on this summer’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP blamed contractors Halliburton and Transocean for many of the problems leading up to the country’s worst-ever oil spill — igniting anger from the companies blamed.

No single action caused the disaster, says the 193-page report: “Rather a complex and interlinked series of mechanical failures, human judgments, engineering design, operational implementation and team interfaces came together to allow the initiation and escalation of the accident.”

Mark Bly, BP’s head of safety, summed it up in a series of eight key findings, presented at a press conference Wednesday morning. Among them:

  • The cement slurry used to seal the well from hydrocarbons was weak and poorly designed.
  • Workers failed to spot problems in a pressure test.
  • “Critical components” of the blowout preventer weren’t working.
  • Hydrocarbons passed undetected by the Transocean rig crew, through the blowout preventer and into the riser.
  • Immediate response was not fast or effective enough.
  • Three different methods for operating the blowout preventer in an emergency failed to seal the well.

Transocean lobbed back, slamming the report and criticizing BP for glossing over its own mistakes in cement design.

“This is a self-serving report that attempts to conceal the critical factor that set the stage for the Macondo incident: BP’s fatally flawed well design. In both its design and construction, BP made a series of cost-saving decisions that increased risk,” Transocean said in a statement.

Greenpeace also had harsh words for BP, calling their efforts a “devastating litany of human error, incompetence and technical failure,” and added that the full scope of the spill is “only beginning to be understood.”

Investigators faced some obstacles, Bly said. The blowout preventer, for example, was only pulled from the sea floor to the surface this week, and still needs to be examined.

Tune in to Wednesday’s NewsHour for more analysis of the BP report.