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

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• BP and Halliburton, the cementing contractor in the operation, did not perform tests to determine the stability of the cement. The report also says BP filed to use risk assessment tests approved by the Mineral Management Service [MMS], the now-dismantled federal agency charged with regulating drilling procedures and operations, in its effort to temporarily seal the well that would allow it to return to the site at a later time.

• BP failed to communicate properly with the drill crew regarding the instability of the cement mixture and the lack of testing involved in the process.

Despite its continual criticisms of BP, Transocean says the report does not represent its legal position “nor does it attempt to assign legal responsibility or fault.” The company describes the report as the result of an internal investigation by a team of experts.

The report is the latest in a series from several parties, including BP, involved in the spill. In each case, an attempt is made to create a factual record, which can be used as both a shield and as authoritative evidence in the numerous lawsuits that are currently underway and are expected to last years.

In January, the National Oil Commission released a 398-page report that spread blame relatively equally among BP, Transocean, and Halliburton, the three leading players involved in the disaster. The report also recommended removal of the $75 million liability cap to cover economic damages, giving the government flexibility to impose fines that are expected to be in the billions of dollars.

In a statement, BP said the Transocean report “fails to acknowledge the significance of Transocean’s role in the event” and said “on its face, it appears to be an advocacy piece, in which Transocean has cherry-picked the facts in support of its litigation strategy.” BP adds that the report needs to be read in the context of the presidential commission report and another by the US Coast Guard, both of which criticize Transocean for safety issues related to the disaster.

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