Decisions intended to save time and money created an unreasonable amount of risk that triggered the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, a disaster that could happen again without significant reforms by industry and government, the presidential panel investigating the BP blowout concluded Wednesday.
The commission findings — the result of a probe requested by President Barack Obama after the April 20 rig explosion — described systemic problems within the offshore energy industry and government regulators who oversee it.
Poor decisions led to technical problems that the commission, and inquires by BP and Congress, have identified as contributing to the accident that killed 11 people and led to more than 200 million gallons of oil spewing from BP’s well a mile beneath the Gulf of Mexico.
BP, Halliburton and Transocean, the three key companies involved with the well and the rig that exploded, each made individual decisions that increased risks of a blowout but saved significant time or money.
But ultimately, the Deepwater Horizon disaster came down to a single failure, the panel says — management. When decisions were made, no one was considering the risk they were taking.
In one example cited by the commission, a BP request to set an “unusually deep cement plug” was approved by the then-Minerals Management Service in 90 minutes. That decision is one of the nine technical and engineering calls the commission says increased the risk of a blowout.
“The blowout was not the product of a series of abberational decisions made by a rogue industry or government officials that could not have been anticipated or expected to occur again. Rather, the root causes are systemic, and absent significant reform in both industry practices and government policies, might well recur,” the commission concluded in a 48-page excerpt of its final report, obtained by The Associated Press.
A final report is due to the president Jan. 11.