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Gulf oil firms need `top to bottom reforms`: US panel

Last Updated: Tuesday, November 9, 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 9, 2010 - 23:28
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