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Re: Gulf Oil Spill Reaches Land

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  • Tue, Jun 15, 2010 - 07:37pm

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    Re: Gulf Oil Spill Reaches Land

BP Deepwater Horizon engineer called rig a ‘nightmare,’ days before Gulf oil spill ignited

BY Sean Alfano

Tuesday, June 15th 2010, 9:21 AM

The Deepwater Horizon rig one day after it exploded April 21, 2010.


The Deepwater Horizon rig one day after it exploded April 21, 2010.

The Deepwater Horizon rig was a “nightmare” before it turned into a catastrophe.

And almost no one seemed to care, according to e-mails of BP engineers and officials released to Congress Monday.

A wave of new details about the doomed rig have emerged, including how its registration as a boat in a tiny South Pacific country helped it skirt tougher U.S. safety laws.

The timing of these details comes as BP executives, including embattled CEO Tony Hayward, hit Washington this week to meet with President Obama and answer questions from a fired up Congress.

“Time after time, it appears that BP made decisions that increased the risk of a blowout to save the company time or expense,” Reps. Henry Waxman, (D-Calif.), and Bart Stupak, (D-Mich.) wrote in a letter to Hayward. “If this is what happened, BP’s carelessness and complacency have inflicted a heavy toll on the Gulf, its inhabitants, and the workers on the rig.”

The congressmen pinpoint five questionable decisions BP made, particularly on the day before the April 20 explosion that triggered the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

The oil giant chose a cheaper, faster option of securing the rig, a choice BP engineer Brian Morel lamented in an April 14 e-mail to a colleague.

“We could be running it in 2-3 days, so need a relative quick response. Sorry for the late notice, this has been nightmare well which has everyone all over the place,” he wrote.

Waxman and Stupak claim BP rejected suggestions from a subcontractor to further bolster the rig’s stability.

A BP official e-mailed a co-worker April 16, saying “who cares, it’s done, end of story, will probably be fine.”

The rig’s array of international hands and private subcontractors involved with its manufacture and production may also be partly to blame for the explosion.

The Deepwater Horizon was built in South Korea and operated by a Swiss company (Transocean) working for a British oil company (BP).

And under international law, rigs can be treated as ships, with less governmental oversight. The Deepwater Horizon was registered as a ship in the Marshall Islands, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Basing it in the tiny South Pacific nation protected the Deepwater Horizon from stricter safety laws.

The Marshall Islands licensed the rig to Transocean, which allowed an oil drilling expert more power than the rig’s sea captain the day it blew up, the Times reports.

The rig’s chief mechanic since 2000 said the number of employees on the rig had decreased to dangerous levels.

“I believe that safety was compromised by this,” Douglas Brown told the newspaper.

A spokesman for Transocean fired back, calling complaints, “egregiously unfounded and inflammatory.”

Obama plans a primetime speech Tuesday to address the growing crisis in the Gulf. He made his fourth trip to the region Monday.

With News Wire Services

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