In an advance released chapter of its forthcoming final report, the US presidential National Oil Spill Commission found that the companies involved in the BP oil spill had made decisions to cut costs and save time, contributing to the disaster. Here are some key excerpts from their findings.
The well blew out because a number of separate risk factors, oversights, and outright mistakes combined to overwhelm the safeguards meant to prevent just such an event from happening. But most of the mistakes and oversights at Macondo [well] can be traced back to a single overarching failure - a failure of management.
Better management by BP, Halliburton, and Transocean would almost certainly have prevented the blowout by improving the ability of individuals involved to identify the risks they faced, and to properly evaluate, communicate, and address them.
The Macondo well blowout was the product of several individual missteps and oversights by BP, Halliburton, and Transocean, which government regulators lacked the authority, the necessary resources, and the technical expertise to prevent.
The blowout was not the product of a series of aberrational decisions made by rogue industry or government officials that could not have been anticipated or expected to occur again. Rather, the root causes are systemic and, absent significant reform in both industry practices and government policies, might well recur.
What we... know is considerable and significant: (1) each of the mistakes made on the rig and onshore by industry and government increased the risk of a well blowout; (2) the cumulative risk that resulted from these decisions and actions was both unreasonably large and avoidable; and (3) the risk of a catastrophic blowout was ultimately realised on April 20 and several of the mistakes were contributing causes of the blowout.
Federal regulations did not address many of the key issues - for example, no regulation specified basic procedures for the negative pressure test used to evaluate the cement seal or minimum criteria for test success.
Whether purposeful or not, many of the decisions that BP, Halliburton, and Transocean made that increased the risk of the Macondo blowout clearly saved those companies significant time (and money).
Some of the risky decisions taken by the companies involved include: