Oil Spill Lengthened to Preserve Macondo Profit
BP Actions Caused Worst U.S. Oil Spill, Lawsuit Says
By Margaret Cronin Fisk and Allen Johnson Jr.
Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) — BP Plc put profits over safety and is responsible for the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion that set off the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, lawyers suing the company said in a new court filing.
BP and other companies connected to the well “ignored crucial safety issues, cut corners and violated federal and state law to save time and money in favor of production and profit,” lawyers for thousands of businesses and individuals claiming economic losses from the spill said in a master complaint filed today in federal court in New Orleans.
“Their cost-cutting measures were outrageous,” according to the complaint filed in the combined case that includes hundreds of spill lawsuits.
BP, which owned the well, and Vernier, Switzerland-based Transocean Ltd., the owner of the rig, face hundreds of lawsuits, including one filed today by the U.S., related to the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico in April and the subsequent oil spill. Other defendants include Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC, BP’s partners in the well.
Economic loss, environmental damage and personal injury suits are combined in the multidistrict litigation or MDL before U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans for pretrial organization and evidence-gathering. Separate groups of suits by BP shareholders claiming securities fraud or mismanagement are pending before a federal judge in Houston.
The defendants breached their duty to the victims by “making and/or acquiescing to a series of reckless decisions concerning well design, the use of centralizers, mudding operations, cementing, integrity testing, deployment of the casing hanger lockdown sleeve, spacer material, simultaneous and distracting operations, and diversion of the flowing mud to the mud-gas separator,” according to the master complaint filed in New Orleans.
Guy Cantwell, a Transocean spokesman, and Scott Dean, a spokesman for London-based BP, didn’t immediately return e-mails and calls seeking comment after regular business hours.
John Christiansen, an Anadarko spokesman, referred to a June 18 statement in which the company said “this tragedy was preventable and the direct result of BP’s reckless decisions and actions.”
The negligence continued after the explosion, as BP sought to cap the well, the lawyers claim in the master complaint.
“Engineers knowledgeable about blowout responses told BP how to kill the well as early as June 2010, but BP, after conferring with its Macondo lease partners Anadarko and MOEX, chose to ignore the engineers’ well-kill procedure, because BP did not want to damage the well — or its chance to make a profit at Macondo,” lawyers Stephen J. Herman and James Parkeson Roy wrote in today’s 178-page complaint.
“Because BP, along with Anadarko and MOEX, hoped to retap the Macondo well and the large, valuable reservoirs beneath it, they ignored expert well-kill information” that could have stopped the spill “many weeks earlier,” the lawyers said.
The case is In re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, 2:10-md-2179, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).
–With assistance from Laurel Brubaker Calkins in Houston. Editors: Michael Hytha, Joe Schneider.
To contact the reporters on this story: Margaret Cronin Fisk in Southfield, Michigan, at firstname.lastname@example.org; Allen M. Johnson Jr. in New Orleans at email@example.com.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at firstname.lastname@example.org.