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Gulf oil spill: Transocean report continues the circular finger-pointing

Transocean Ltd., the Swiss company that owned and operated the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, says the Gulf of Mexico oil spill that occurred last year is the result of successive decisions made by well owner BP. BP calls it "an advocacy piece" to support Transocean's "litigation strategy."

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Wisner Properties Field Inspector Forrest Travirca walks in an area of dead marsh grass that was impacted by oil from the BP oil spill in Port Fourchon, La., April 20, 2011. Lengthy legal battles lay ahead. BP filed a lawsuit alleging negligence by the maker of the device that failed to stop the spill, while the manufacturer of the blowout preventer and rig owner filed their own claims.

Patrick Semansky/AP

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Transocean Ltd., the Swiss company that owned and operated the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, says the Gulf of Mexico oil spill that occurred last year is the result of successive decisions made by well owner BP that compromised the integrity of the well, resulting in 11 deaths and the discharge of 205 million gallons of oil into ocean waters over three months.

The company released an 854-page report in late June that follows a narrative consistent in blaming BP for “a succession of interrelated well design, construction and temporary abandonment decisions” that led to the well’s failure on April 20, 2010.

The company charges that BP “retained full authority over drilling operations, casing and cementing, and temporary abandonment procedures, including approval of all work to be performed by contractors and subcontractors,” and proceeds to show how that authority was misused with disastrous results.

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Among the report's findings:

• The cement BP used to isolate the reservoir to prevent hydrocarbons from entering the well was “of minimal quality, left little margin for error and was not tested adequately before or after the cementing operation.” A hydrocarbon is a compound consisting of hydrogen and carbon, the high flow of pressure of which is blamed for making it difficult for the blowout preventer to seal the well properly.

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