New Orleans: BP's long-awaited internal report on what it believes went wrong when a rig exploded and started the massive Gulf oil spill never mentions the words blame, regret, apology, mistake or pollution. The word fault shows up 20 times, but only once in the same sentence as the company's name.
BP took some of the blame, acknowledging among other things that it misinterpreted a key pressure test of the well that blew out and eventually spewed 206 million gallons of oil into the Gulf. But in a possible preview of its legal strategy, it also pointed the finger — and plenty — at its partners on the doomed rig.
The highly technical, 193-page report released on Wednesday attributes the worst offshore oil spill in US history and the deadly rig explosion that set it off to a complex chain of failures both human and mechanical. Some of those problems have been made public over the past 4 1/2 months, such as the failure of the blowout preventer to clamp the well shut.
The report is far from the definitive ruling on the cause of the catastrophe. For one thing, government investigators have not yet begun to fully analyze the blowout preventer, which was raised from the bottom of the sea over Labor Day weekend.
But it does provide an early look at the company's probable legal strategy — spreading the blame among itself, rig owner Transocean, and cement contractor Halliburton — as it deals with hundreds of lawsuits, billions of dollars in claims and possible criminal charges in the coming months and years.
For Billy Nungesser, president of oil-soaked Plaquemines Parish, the report doesn't change the fact that in his mind the time that has passed since the disaster hasn't made offshore drilling safer.
"If they believe painting the rigs yellow would make them safer, stop delaying, give us a bucket of paint and let us get started," Nungesser said of those in power.
Critics of BP called the report self-serving.
"This report is not BP's mea culpa," said Rep Edward J Markey, D-Mass, a member of a congressional panel investigating the spill. "Of their own eight key findings, they only explicitly take responsibility for half of one. BP is happy to slice up blame as long as they get the smallest piece."
The disaster began when the Deepwater Horizon exploded off the coast of Louisiana on April 20, killing 11 workers. BP's well spewed oil into the Gulf for three months before a temporary cap stopped it in mid-July.
First Published: Thursday, September 09, 2010, 16:04