Did Transocean's Neglect of Deepwater Horizon Rig Maintenance Cause Gulf Oil Spill?

Transocean Deepwater Horizon Rig Gulf Oil Spill Transocean's (RIG) Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico more than four months ago, killing 11 of its crew and injuring 17. But the investigation into what happened on April 20 and the events that led up to it is just beginning. So far, BP (BP) has taken the brunt of the blame and public wrath over the explosion and the oil spill that followed, but the investigation is now focusing on Transocean's maintenance of the rig. A key instrument failed during Macondo well blowout, causing the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

The investigation is also looking at Halliburton (HAL), which was the contractor for the cement job, and the federal Minerals Management Service. When Transocean, BP and Halliburton employees testified at an inquiry into the well explosion by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, many tried to pin blame for the accident on each other. But some pointed the finger directly at their own employers.

The Financial Times reports that one Transocean employee said Transocean failed to comply with recertification maintenance rules for the Deepwater Horizon's blowout preventer: According to his testimony, the rig's blowout preventer, designed to shut off the well in case of an emergency, was four years overdue for major maintenance. When the accident occurred, the blowout preventer failed to work, which led directly to the massive oil spill.

Transocean claims the Deepwater Horizon's blowout preventer underwent extensive inspections and maintenance on a regular basis, including an inspection that morning. But a BP exec told the panel the blowout preventer had been modified in 2004 and 2005, which made early efforts to shut the well down ineffective, because its plumbing was different from what the response team had on its books, an assertion Transocean refutes.

The Washington Post adds testimony from Tuesday by a Halliburton employee who said he told BP engineers that if BP proceeded with the cement job as designed, it would have a gas-flow problem. He recommended a possible solution which BP chose not to use, he said. BP, of course, said Halliburton should have refused to do the job.

The Wall Street Journal adds that on the morning of the explosion, BP sent the rig employees a request for a change in a key safety pressure test. That request, the newspaper said, was "unorthodox and left crew members confused." BP wanted to remove an unusually large amount of the thick, heavy fluid called drilling mud from the well and set the cement plug much deeper than usual before running the pressure test. The drilling mud holds down any gas that leaks into the well. But key BP and Transocean managers were unavailable to consult employees on the rig before and during the test. The rig manager himself was on shore.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Bonds for Beginners

Learn about fixed income investments.

View Course »

Understanding Stock Market Indexes

What does it mean when people say "the market is up 2%"?

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

42 Comments

Filter by:
crrunch

Sounds as tho there was a level of failure with all these companies. Combined, they created an event of proportion. Just another example of integrity being shelved to improve a bottom line.

August 27 2010 at 11:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
HAROLD

YOU GUYS CRACK ME UP WITH ALL THE BLAME HIM NO THEM NOT ME . SH-T HAPPENS ,QUIT TRYING TO BLAME EACH OTHER AND WORK TOGETHER AND MAKE THING BETTER ON YOUR OWN WITHOUT A BUNCH OF GOVERMENT HELP OR INVESTAGATIONS PEAPLE DIE EVEY DAY DONT MAKE IT RIGHT DONT MAKE IT WRONG ITS CALLED LIFE .PEPLE NEED TO QUIT WANTING EVERYTHING HANDED TOO THEM WITHOUT NO RISK .

August 27 2010 at 9:46 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
artisan3m

Its all Bush's fault ~ with he and Cheney being oil men, they should have known. No ~ wait! Its Obama's fault because he isn't an oil man and couldn't have known. Its BP's fault for hiring shoddy contractors like TransOcean and Halliburton. No, its TransOcean's fault because it didn't do adequate maintenance and it modified the blowout preventer. Its Halliburton's fault for because of a botched cement job. Its MMA's fault for granting a permit. Its the government's fault for relaxing regulations And on, and on, and on.

August 27 2010 at 9:26 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
emtpjoel

Granted there were operational problems leading up to the incident but after it occurred the Coast Guard flooded and capsized the rig causing the casing to break off. They should have just let the rig butn to the water line and the flow could have been controlled.

August 27 2010 at 9:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
welcome louis

about time they FINNALLY started looking at haliburtons involvement in this disaster,,, was the cement job the cause,, like in austraia a couple years back, this time it failed after only 20 days in the gulf,, suspicious,, dont you think,, maybe obama was getting too high of ratings,, for the repubs who control haliburton,

August 27 2010 at 9:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
c2t2beau

Racetrk: I like the way you think., Everyone grab a shovel, and head for the coal mines.. Opppssss How long those Chinese miners been in the hole? Don't stop off shore drilling because of (1) mishap. If that was the case, all the aircraft would be grounded.

August 27 2010 at 9:13 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
daleralston

Again these big oil companies will try to make blame on the little guy, Transocean. They may have not followed their instinct to the "T", But I'm sure the big wheels, after listening to "60 Minutes interview" created and mainly caused the oil spill, since the big shots wanted everything done faster. It's like having a slave in the past work faster after he's beat dailey to keep him going and do more work even tho he knows he'll collapse any minute. When are the big shots going to accept responsibility in this world and not blame the little people. Transocean should have known better, but it's again, either keep up and give the big shots what they want or you're excluded next time. BP is responsible to the fullest of the act. "Greed" is what it is called to the expense of anyone else involved. Look at our government, do they really even consider us so called "little people". We feed their trough but we are just little "nobodies" to them. They can't even imagine how our world works out here, they live in a shell of their confines and never really look out until they need election or theirs an upset that may cause them to loose their nest eggs. Sad sad world. Thank God we are who we are and we established ourselves fairly well, otherwise, we would be slaves to all their needs. Hang in their Transocean, they can't put all the blame on you.

August 27 2010 at 9:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to daleralston's comment
bentley

the problem with this reasoning is that companies try to accomplish due diligence and must do so with third party companies - government decree. transocean and halliburton HAVE to be top-notch to pass muster for any company using them. IF they or halliburton contributed to this mess, it should be known.

August 27 2010 at 11:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Aron

all of you libs are the same....drilling bad, bad for the environment. Thanks Gore for brainwashing all of the easily influenced idiots of America. when a plane or a train crashes or has an accident we do not shut down the industry for 6 months so why should we do it with drilling?????? So while you f*&^ing brainwashed idiots keep ranting about drilling, our fellow hardworking people of the south (offshore) are going hungry.....and you are losing votes. Please keep starting your SUV's and powering your houses and jets while losing votes till November, morons.

August 27 2010 at 9:03 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Aron's comment
Linda K

All of you conservatives are the same...now doesn't that sound silly? Lumping everyone together is just plain stinkin' thinkin'. I happen to be a liberal and believe we need to drill more, not only offshore, but also inland. Your use of profanity (in disguise, haha) also speaks volumes about your poor vocabulary.

August 27 2010 at 10:13 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
c2t2beau

Don't start blaming the Prez - He doesn't know Chit about drill, neither does his cabinet. Remember ? Armageddon (Bruce Willis) You can't drill using the Gov't Standard Drilling Manual.

August 27 2010 at 9:01 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
filmguy2058

Halliburton.....Halliburton....Halliburton....Halliburton....Halliburton.....

August 27 2010 at 8:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply