With testimonies presently ongoing in the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement‘s joint investigation into the causes of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, many revelations are now coming to the surface. The ongoing testimony is exposing BP as being aware of a measure of safety issues involving the Deepwater Horizon, and ignoring them.
Investigators are saying that given the alleged severity of the acknowledged safety issues, BP should have temporarily halted drilling operations. The allegations of BP’s awareness of safety issues on the Deepwater Horizon rig have come to light because of the testimony of BP employee Ronald Sepulvado. Sepulvado, a Deepwater Horizon well site leader, who coincidently left the rig only four days before the ruinous blowout.
In his testimony, Sepulvado said that he was aware of a leak on a control pod atop the well’s blowout preventer and notified his supervisor in Houston about the problem. Sepulvado did not consider the problem to be crucial. He is directly quoted as saying, “I assumed everything was OK because I reported it to the team leader and he should have reported it.”
The device in question is the Deepwater Horizon’s blowout preventer, which according to the LA Times is, “a 450-ton hydraulic device, designed to prevent gas or oil from blasting out of the drill hole.” This is the very same device that is reported to have failed during the April 20th disaster. A maritime attorney found this to be in violation of a law requiring BP to disclose this information to the proper federal agency and suspend operation until the specific problem has been resolved.
Making matters worse for BP are two more reports of warnings BP received only days before the disaster aboard the Deepwater Horizon. Sepulvado has confirmed one of the reports, sent April 15. Halliburton sent this report to warn BP of the risk of a minor gas flow in the well. Halliburton partnered with BP on the design and construction of the well drilled by the Deepwater Horizon, and has also been investigated for their role in the events leading up to the April 20 blowout. Of this report, Sepulvado is quoted as saying; “I didn’t read it in its entirety.” This is especially damaging to Sepulvado notes a maritime attorney.
As for the second report, Halliburton sent it on April 18 to BP officials aboard the Deepwater Horizon as well as on land. The report makes recommendations, according to the Houston Chronicle, on addressing flaws with the cement job “used to secure pipe-like casing to the walls of the Macondo well.” Macondo is the official name of the oil and gas prospect being drilled by the Deepwater Horizon. Sepulvado however could not affirm the existence of this report as he could the April 15 report. Regardless of this fact, the existence of three reports, the documentation of at least one, and the testimony given by Sepulvado are more than enough to indicate negligence on BP’s part in the opinion of one Texas maritime attorney, and give merit to the many lawsuits against BP currently being brought on.