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Join the debate on BP - In Deep Water

Tonight's Panorama film investigates the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

President Barack Obama has labelled the spill America's environmental 9/11.

The failure of the blowout preventer - a critical piece of safety equipment - on the Deepwater Horizon rig on 20 April means that up to 60,000 barrels of oil a day are gushing into the sea, wreaking havoc with the region's delicate ecosystem.

Hilary Andersson interviewed one worker on the Deepwater Horizon who told her he identified a leak on a component of the blowout preventer weeks before the explosion. The explosion killed 11 workers and injured many more. That worker is now suing both BP and the rig's owners, Transocean, for negligence.

Panorama spoke to other survivors of the explosion whose lives have been impacted by the oil slick spreading along the coastline and some of the people trying to stem the
environmental damage

We also address the questions being raised in Washington around BP's responsibility.

Panorama would like to invite you to have your say on the programme and join in the wider debate about oil exploration - its benefits and its pitfalls. You can do so by posting your comments here and joining our conversation.


  • Comment number 1.

    We welcome your comments on Panorama's BP - In Deep Water. Please tell us what you think of the programme and the public and media response to the issue both here in the UK and in America.

  • Comment number 2.

    It is a great shame that Hilary Anderson investigated only one side of the story. I personally would not interview Tort lawyers directly benefiting around 30% from any compensations for this report :-). I am a BP employee in the UK for more than 5 years and during the entire time safety was PARAMOUNT IN EVERY ASPECT OF OUR JOB. Starting with safe driving course for EVERY employee every 3 years, total ban on using hands free in cars, ban on driving when tired (BP encourages and pays for hotels if necessary). Strong culture of managing stress, tiredness and even a policy on using stairs in the office! IT IS UNTRUE AND UNJUST TO SAY THAT BP HAS A CULTURE OF UNSAFE OPERATIONS.Perhaps in the US they do not follow those policies??? Perhaps the shortcuts came from the subcontractors? In any case it was not a terribly good investigation.
    PS The spill is terrible tragedy and I totally agree that BP should control better the rig operating company and the cleanup process. situation

  • Comment number 3.

    So the Americans are suffering the worst evironmental problem they have faced!! What have they done to the rest of the world? They have caused more evironmental disasters and consume more oil than any any other nation in the world. They are bullys and the fact that our government have not stood up to them over this issue is appalling. BP is not just a British Company, the Americans have made a lot of tax dollers from this company and now are blaming us. The fact that there were other company's involved in this issue, mainly American seems to have escaped their notice. "Friends" like that who needs them.
    It is about time this country woke up to the fact that the USA is a totally insular county and does not care about the rest of the world.
    One wonders, why Trident has been "ring fenced" is it because our so called "friends" are involved!! After the way the American Government has responded to this accident its about time our government had the courage to end this so called friendship.

  • Comment number 4.

    I Listened intently to Panorama. However, sadly it only gave speculative assumptions by two faced Americans and greedy Lawyers about the cause of the oil spill.

    Ask yourself this question, why is it that all the major oil disasters happen in American waters?

    COWBOYS spring to mind!

  • Comment number 5.

    I have just watched your Panorama programme which came on at 8.30pm regarding the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I am appalled at the totally biased content against BP. One could have been fooled into thinking it was an American programme. No regard was given to the huge efforts by BP to rectify the disaster. Surely Panorama realises what an important part of our economy BP is to this Country, and it seems that every effort was made to vilify them. Ironocally, most of the oil from that well would be used by gas guzzling American vehicles.
    Footnote: BP's partners, one an American Company, are trying to wriggle out of their responsibility. Let fairness and common sense prevail. Let's not forget the Lehman catastrophe an American disaster which affected the whole world.

  • Comment number 6.

    There are a number of problems i have with this investigation.

    1. BP did not own the rig, the rig was owned by Transocean
    2. BP did not operate the rig, the rig was operated by Transocean and its employees.
    3. BP contracted Transocean to drill the well, the operation of the rig remained in the hands of Transocean.
    4. The faulty Blow-Out-Preventer is owned by Transocean and is clearly listed as their rig equipment for the DW-Horizon on their website.
    In this instance, i fail to see how equipment maintenance and upkeep could be any other party's responsibility apart from the owners.
    5. As Transocean operated the rig, all rig workers interviewed were and are Transocean employees. This was not stated as there is inherent bias to any statements they give.
    6. The spill is described as the worst in American history and indeed it is, but this is misleading. It is not, by some distance the biggest in the Gulf of Mexico's history which was the 9 month well blow-out of Ixtoc 1 in 1980.
    7. Any comparison with the Exxon Valdez is also inherently misleading due to the difficulty in oil clean-up in Alaska and the climate. In warmer climes the oil is broken down naturally much faster by several processes. Oil eating bacteria are much more active, the action of sunlight breaks down oil particles much faster as well as natural evaporation of light volatiles. A comparison with Ixtoc 1 would have been much more accurate in this regard due to climate similarity.
    8. 8 inch thick oil was mentioned as being especially bad. In terms of clean-up this is a boon and not a bane as it is thick enough for a sustainable burn. The thin "chocolate mousse" is much harder to clear and therefore the report was misleading to suggest otherwise.

    In many ways these flaws are quite serious and is a little shoddy, but it all smacks of something cobbled together too quickly before all the facts are known.

    Whatever fine and substantial though it may be apportioned to BP it will be years in the courts before it is finalised.

    Exxon were fined by the court eventually a mere 17 years after Valdez.

    One small point missed by the report is that BP are liable for 65% of the costs under US law, why 65%?? Because they owned 65%, 25% is owned by Andarko and 10% by Mitsui. Ultimately BP will seek to apportion the costs in compliance with the law


  • Comment number 7.

    A superb investigation...Maybe, just maybe, we will begin to start making the connections between our insatiable demand for fuel and our degradation of the environment. It is not just BP, or Amoco, or Exxon, or Union Carbide, or Haliburton, or BAE or Monsanto...it's us. Thank you for a beautifully put together production.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    The number of factual inaccuracies in this program is astounding even by the lowly standards of recent Panorama programs.

    Who is Tyrone Benton? He was one of a series of talking heads telling us that the exploration rig was being pushed aside hurriedly to let the production rig in and to let the dollars roll in.

    The quickest research would have shown that it can take anywhere from 5-10 years for a field to go from an exploration discovery to production. And 400,000 bucks a day rig costs are really very reasonable, we must speak more if you ever want to go into the rig leasing business.

    So few comments and all critical thus far... never mind everyone was watching the football instead...

    Shoddy at best.

  • Comment number 11.

    i'm with "horrified" it was shoddy journalism. Sorry, i have a few other things to say as i couldn't read my writing earlier as the inaccuracies and deficiencies were too numerous and blatant.

    Tony Hayward was accused by the congress committee questioners of Stonewalling. The fact is he can't answer a lot of the questions as the questioners are lay people to Oil and Gas and haven't separated the respective company operations in their minds. i.e. Asking Tony Hayward about the specifics of the Rig safety will be hard to answer by BP as the Rig wasn't owned or operated by BP.

    BP will not conclude on the causes of the spill until the critical failure of the critical piece of equipment is known and that is a mile under ocean (Blow-Out-Preventer).

    Therefore to report Tony Hayward as stonewalling is to report the opinion of congress panel members as fact. This is lazy and second-hand.

    Another point. Estimates of the well flow continue to rise. This is reported as if it can be extrapolated. i.e. the well had always been flowing at 60,000 barrels a day. No-one can conclude that, they can only conclude on an estimation of the well flow at that point in time. I just don't think BP would initially estimate 1,000 and other say 5,000 when in reality it is meant to be 60,000. It would be too obviously wrong and found out.

    This points to the possibility that there was not initially much well flow and the flow has increased as the casing has failed further. I suspect BP have ROV footage to show this

  • Comment number 12.

    This was not investigative journalist rather a one-sided continuation of the kangaroo court treatment metered out to BP by the US Administration. My conclusion: The BBC is protecting its BBC America interests.

  • Comment number 13.

    It is entirely understandable that so many people posting messages are falling over themselves to champion the cause of big oil. Afterall, to do anything else would mean that we would have to question why we have allowed ourselves to be so compromised - morally and financially.

  • Comment number 14.

    Unbelievably biased and frustrating to watch. Why didn't the presenter question the US goverment?-who gave the go ahead for such deep sea drilling.

  • Comment number 15.

    Dear Ms Anderrson,
    sorry if my earlier comments hurt your feelings, i tried not to be harsh. I still disagree with many things portrayed and felt the article did not make enough attempt to show the other companies involvement in things. Forced myself to watch till the end and duly noted your "British" comment at the end of your report. No offence to the guys, they are all valuable crew members in their own right but a crane op and welder are not going to be able to shed an awful lot of light on the accident, just an eye report on the aftermath. As for the problem the other guy reported, downtimes-stoppages & repairs to me and you, are not always paid for by the client(BP in this case) It can depend on the circumstances and nature of the stoppage. So could you please do a bit more investigation on whether it was BP or Transocean who stood to lose money by shutting down the rig to do this repair. Surely this could be a key point and I'm keen to know the answer to this one myself.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 18.

    There may be bitterness from the US administration and those that are affected by the oil spill in the Gulf with some justification but with so many people trying to be experts without having the expertise nor the benefit of the information necessary to take a professional look at this issue it would have been a great opportunity for the BEEB to show that they at least keep an open mind. Oh but the shallow depths of investigative reporting these days of course does not allow any effort to go in and you end up with a piece of cheap hatchet journalism. What a pity. The real issues were to do with who wants to make decisions in any oil and gas drilling operations in balancing risk versus reward - somebody has to. There is no such thing as a 100% safe operation when you are drilling anywhere let alone in deepwater. No sane drilling manager is going to jeapardise an operation that is costing zillions of dollars by skipping a few centralisers on a cement job. But then Hilary talks to the rig workers as there bound to know? 2. We all know that the US litigation business is out of control so why is it relevant that a Texan lawyer sees BP as a big fat target for a law suit - is that news? Looking at the claims flooding in to see just how ridiculous some of them will be would be just as relevant. 3. There are a very large number of operational, equipment and service problems that can cause an accident such as this most of which will require a significant amount of leg work to review once the current focus on capping the well is complete. Is it surprising that BP do not want to pre-empt that process by jumping to a conclusion? The trial before any proper investigation is typical US style mid-term election politics to deflect from other less savory US issues. Did the US President get put on trial when the US banking system failed the same way that Tony Haward is being targeted? I guess I am not surprised you fell for it Hilary but next time get a bigger budget and do the job properly.

  • Comment number 19.

    I was looking forward to the program which was billed as giving some insight into "what happened, and who was to blame" but then it wandered off to show oil soaked pelicans and beaches???
    Was the oily pelican the cause perhaps?
    Maybe the oily beach was to blame?

    No wonder BP didn't want to talk to you, but you were happy to pass on the second hand overheard telephone call from someone to probably someone else saying they "knew it would happen"!

    Sorry, but that was just shoddy journalism pandering to the masses and showing the sensationalist images we've come to associate with the red top news rags rather than something befitting our national broadcaster!

    In my view BP are _right_ to say nothing until their investigation is completed because to do otherwise would be pure speculation, and there's enough of that around at the moment already without the BBC adding to it.

    Perhaps I'm wrong to expect so much of a news institution that has been dumbing down for too long.

  • Comment number 20.

    This discussion thing can be quite difficult in that you write something knowing what you are trying to say but later re-read it and realise another reader may have interpretted your comments completely differently. Therefore I'm ellaborating on my welder and crane op comments before anyone thinks I've done them an injustice. Their roles offshore are just as important as any other. What I was trying to say was that there has been nothing to suggest their aspects in the job played any part in the accident. Answers are most likely to come from either the drillfloor, control room or cementing side of things. None of which these 2 guys were directly part of and therefore it was unlikely they were going to be able to shed much light on things. Hope I've clarified what I meant and not upset anyone.

  • Comment number 21.

    What a dreadful Panorama. Hilary Andersson’s, in her ‘we are all doomed’ voice was pretty dreadful. I thought that we were going to be presented with a factual programme looking at what went wrong yet some 15 to 20 minutes into the programme we still had not approached the original subject theme. The vilification of BP was, as though, scripted by the USA government under the guise of Ms Andersson. There was a sortie of leading questions which could have given one answer all of which was biased against BP and possibly the facts. It was a bad report, structurally unsound and nowhere near the BBC generally high standard.

  • Comment number 22.

    I was hugely disappointed with this Panorama programme. It seemed to be just some news clippings hastily put together with a little trip out to the Gulf and interview some of the locals. Where was all the research and background and explanation of how this all fits together. It is a huge disaster and warranted a properly constructed, informative and balanced investigation. Poor, very poor, at best.

  • Comment number 23.

    I have to agree with most of the comment here. Panorama was once a watchword for investigative journalism and from the first few minutes I understood just how shoddy a job you were going to do... perhaps you might start showing national geographic videos to the people involved in this piece of nonsense.

  • Comment number 24.

    This programme is must be aimed at a USA audience. People are suffering, it's not the first time.

    It's not a matter of BP being irresponsible. Almost all multi-national corporations would have acted in the same way. It's easy to point a finger at BP and it's sub-contractors, and say that they've cut corners here or there, but that is because it is enshrined in corporation law that the board of directors maximise the profits of their shareholders. All this within an environment where all other oil companies are probably taking similar risks, or not generating as much profit, and so not attracting as much investment.

    A far more balanced analysis can be found in the Guardian's article on Bhopal http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jun/23/india-barack-obama-bhopal where lobbying of big business and unfettered capitalism's double standards are highlighted. Meanwhile the BBC continues portraying this like a Hollywood blockbuster. The world is damned. One bad apple caused it. One Obama is gonna find it. Gulf.

    Mind you, it's a nice distraction from how the banking sector created a global recession, then the western world's governments told their masses that they'd not only bail the banks out, but would also reduce almost everyone's standard of living to pay for it. Meanwhile golden parachutes open up all over the place.

    We only have ourselves to blame. Given the choice between neo-liberalism, neo-liberalism or neo-liberalism, we made the wrong choice.

    Better switch on my video game console before this all starts to wind me up.

  • Comment number 25.

    I hope the shocking evidence in the clip below clearly showing the immense scale of this tragedy is raised in tonight's program - its a few days old so I'm sure I'm not the first to post a link (but just in case)


    Why are there not more ships cleaning this up... scandalous.

  • Comment number 26.

    oops - old program.. damn.. pass the link on to someone at the news dept !!

  • Comment number 27.

    Today's news included a statement that Adm. Allen was optimistic about the two new drillings managing to intersect the small diameter pipe while drilling blind for thousands of feet. The reason given was that oil companies have done that kind of thing successfully many times before. But isn't the uniqueness of Deep Water Horizon one of the big problems hampering the accident recovery? Have the oil companies ever done this backup drilling at the 5000 ft depth? How about reporting just what technology they rely on to keep the drill bit aimed at the small cross section target?


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