Commission releases chapter on BP well blowout in advance of full reportNews // January 6, 2011
The National Oil Spill Commission in the US has released in advance the chapter from its upcoming full report that contains the key findings from its extensive investigation into the causes of the blowout of BP's Macondo well.
On April 20, 2010, that disaster killed 11 workers, seriously injured many others, and spewed uncontrolled over four million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico for nearly three months, creating the largest oil spill ever in American waters.
Among the findings from the chapter are that "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 can be traced back to a single overarching 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."
Commission Co-Chair William K Reilly said of the Commission's findings: "My observation of the oil industry indicates that there are several companies with exemplary safety and environment records. So a key question posed from the outset by this tragedy is, do we have a single company, BP, that blundered with fatal consequences, or a more pervasive problem of a complacent industry?"
"Given the documented failings of both Transocean and Halliburton, both of which serve the offshore industry in virtually every ocean, I reluctantly conclude we have a system-wide problem."
Co-Chair Bob Graham said: "The Commission's findings only compound our sense of tragedy because we know now that the blowout of the Macondo well was avoidable."
"This disaster likely would not have happened had the companies involved been guided by an unrelenting commitment to safety first. And it likely would not have happened if the responsible governmental regulators had the capacity and will to demand world class safety standards."
"There is nothing that we can do to bring back the lives of the men we lost that day. But we can honor their memory by pledging to take steps necessary to avoid repeating the fatal practices of the past."