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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Chief of oil spill inquiry says BP didn’t ‘favor dollars over safety’

    WASHINGTON — The lead counsel for the presidential panel investigating the Gulf oil spill said Monday that his inquiry so far has not found evidence to support earlier, widespread public speculation that BP sacrificed safety to save money as it drilled the Macondo well.

    In presenting his preliminary findings to the panel, general counsel Fred Bartlit said, “”To date we have not seen a single instance where a human being made a conscious decision to favor dollars over safety.””

    Bartlit also said that based on his team’s work so far, they agreed with “”90 percent”” of a September report by BP into the causes of the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which killed 11 men and spewed nearly 5 million barrels of oil — the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

    The commission’s conclusions, along with those of several other ongoing investigations, are likely to have important implications for government policymakers and the many lawsuits pending against BP.

    Bartlit shied away from assigning blame for the April 20 disaster. “”We are not making any legal judgments on liability, negligence or gross negligence or any legal issues at all,”” he said. “”It’s a hard thing to do. Our effort is to look at cause, not liability.””

    During the first of two days of hearings in Washington, Bartlit and his team answered many important questions while posing new ones.

    Bartlit said his investigation indicated that the explosion probably occurred because oil and natural gas went through the cement at the bottom of the well and straight up the drill pipe, rather than on the outside of the pipe, bolstering BP’s argument that a decision to use fewer protective devices on the sides of the well did not lead to the explosion.

    But the investigation also showed that BP and Halliburton, which did the cementing on the well, knew beforehand that the cement they were using was defective and that “”pre-job laboratory data should have prompted a redesign of cement slurry”” ultimately used in the well.

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