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Daily View: Blame for Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Clare Spencer | 09:55 UK time, Thursday, 6 January 2011

Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon 21 April 2010


Commentators discuss the implications of a US report which concluded that BP cost-cutting is to blame for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Stephen Power and Ben Casselman at the Wall Street Journal say the finger of blame returns to BP:

"The report is likely to turn attention back to BP after several months in which the oil giant sought to turn the spotlight on its contractors."

In The Times David Wighton says the report is unlikely to prove a critical obstacle to BP's efforts to rebuild and minimise the costs of the disaster:

"The final report states that "whether purposeful or not" many of the decisions taken by BP, Halliburton and Transocean that increased risks did save time and therefore money. The conclusions will form an important part of the legal actions being pursued against BP, including that by the US Government. But they do not directly determine whether BP will be found guilty of gross negligence, which would increase the fines faced by the company by billions of dollars."

Bryan Walsh says in Time's Ecocentric blog the focus is now on how the spill affects US politics:

"With a Republican-controlled House looking to free business from regulation - including the oil and gas industry - that reformation will only get harder. But the commission report should remind us - just in case we've forgotten - that those changes may be a matter of life or death."

In Mother Jones Kate Sheppard starts with "Dear BP: You're busted. Yours, the Oil Spill Commission" but anticipates this is not the end for blaming BP:

"The big takeaway from the chapter: '[T]he accident of April 20 was avoidable.' There will surely be much more to take away next week, when the commission releases the full final report - and policymakers suss out what the conclusions mean for the future of deepwater drilling."

At the same time, the Commons Energy and Climate Committee produced a report recommending a continuation of North Sea oil exploration. David Prosser says in the Independent their decision is money orientated:

"The Energy and Climate Change Committee's announcement today that a moratorium on deep-water drilling off the coast of the UK should not be imposed does not imply there is no risk of the sort of disaster seen in the Gulf of Mexico last summer. Whatever your views about the safety record of oil and gas explorers, that risk can never be entirely discounted. No, this is a decision based on a head-headed economic view: that such is the demand for oil and the cost of switching to less risky alternative sources of energy, deepwater drilling needs to continue."

Links in full

Stephen Power, Ben Casselman | Wall Street Journal | White House Probe Blames BP, Industry in Gulf Blast
David Wighton | Times | A shadow cast over entire industry
Bryan Walsh | Time | The Gulf Oil Spill Was Avoidable
Kate Sheppard | Mother Jones | BP Disaster was "Avoidable"
David Prosser | Independent | Britain cannot afford to turn its back on deepwater drilling

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