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BP Should Stand For Big Problems

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday June 17th, 2010 | 0 Comments

I have a new name for BP: Big Problems. According to documents released Monday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, problems existed with BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the weeks before the April 20 explosion, according to documents released Monday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Congressional investigators found BP behind schedule on the rig, losing $500,000 a day. BP decided to cut corners in the well’s design, cementing and drilling, and the installation of safety devices. Congressional investigators also found that BP rejected the advice of Halliburton Inc. to use 21 centralizers to ensure the casing ran down the center of the well bore. BP used only six centralizers.

Investigators found other errors too. BP decided not to do a “cement bond log” that would have taken 9 to 12 hours. It would have tested the cement’s integrity. BP did not completely circulate drilling mud, another 12 hour procedure that could have helped detect the gas pockets which later rose up the well and exploded on the rig.

An Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) investigation found that between June 2007 and February 2010 two BP-owned oil refineries out of 55 inspected had citations for “egregiously willful” safety violations. Egregiously willful safety violations are defined as committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. The other 53 refineries only had one violation.

“The only thing you can conclude is that BP has a serious, systemic safety problem in their company,” said Jordan Barab, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

ProPublica obtained reports by BP. A 2001 report noted that BP had neglected to install equipment “needed for emergency shutdown.” The equipment needed included safety shutoff valves, and gas and fire detectors. One year later, California officials found that over 80 percent of the facilities at a Southern California refinery did not meet requirements to maintain storage tanks without leaks or damage. BP settled a lawsuit by the South Coast Air Quality Management District for over $100 million

A 2004 inquiry found “a pattern of intimidating workers who raised safety or environmental concerns.” In 2005, a Texas City refinery exploded. BP’s investigation found that “significant process safety issues exist at all five U.S. refineries, not just Texas City.” It also found “instances of a lack of operating discipline, toleration of serious deviations from safe operating practices, and apparent complacency toward serious process safety risk existed at each refinery.”

In 2005, a Texas City refinery exploded. BP’s investigation found that “significant process safety issues exist at all five U.S. refineries, not just Texas City.” It also found “instances of a lack of operating discipline, toleration of serious deviations from safe operating practices, and apparent complacency toward serious process safety risk existed at each refinery”

An Associated Press (AP) analysis of BP’s 582 page regional spill plan for the Gulf and the 52-page site specific plan for the Deepwater Horizon rig “vastly understate the dangers posed by an uncontrolled leak and vastly overstate the company’s preparedness to deal with one.” Among the errors the AP analysis found was Dr. Peter Lutz, a Florida professor listed as one of the experts to contact if a spill occurred. Lutz died four years before the plan was published.


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