Gulf oil firms need `top to bottom reforms`: US panel
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Last Updated: Tuesday, November 09, 2010, 23:28
Washington: The three companies involved in the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster lacked a safety culture and need a complete overhaul, the head of a US presidential probe said today.

"Apparently, there was not a culture of safety on that rig... BP, Halliburton and Transocean are in need of top-to-bottom reform," said William Reilly, co-chair of the presidential oil spill commission.

"We know a safety culture has to come from the top," Reilly added, as he opened the second day of a hearing into the April 20 explosion on a BP-leased platform off the Louisiana coast.

The seven-member panel has been tasked by US President Barack Obama with finding out the cause of the accident which killed 11 rig workers and sparked the biggest maritime oil spill in US history.

Reilly said the accident was caused by a "culture of complacency" and a "sweep of bad decisions" by the three companies, who were working together to drill a well more than a mile beneath the surface of the Gulf.

"There appeared to be a rush to completion of the Macondo well and one has to ask where the drive came from that made people determine they couldn't wait for sound cement or the right centralisers," said Reilly.

The commission's lead investigators have said BP took "unnecessary risks" that may have led to the explosion, and have also fingered the cement developed and provided by oil services giant Halliburton to seal the well and keep flammable hydrocarbons from rushing up the riser pipe to the rig.

The probe team also said Transocean and BP workers on the rig did not recognise warnings on a computer, which should have allowed them to take action to avert the deadly blast on April 20. The rig sank two days later.

But lead investigator Fred Bartlit said he found no evidence BP and its partners had sacrificed safety for profits, putting him at odds with lawmakers, who have accused the oil companies of cutting corners to finish drilling the well, which was reportedly costing them USD 1.5 million a day.


First Published: Tuesday, November 09, 2010, 23:28

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