Transocean: Coast Guard report on oil spill flawed
By HARRY R. WEBER
The owner of the oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico last year said Wednesday that a Coast Guard report that faults the company for a poor safety culture and other shortcomings that preceded the disaster is full of errors.
Transocean said in a 112-page response submitted to the U.S. government that the April 22 draft report should be corrected. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement is expected to release a joint final report with the Coast Guard by late next month.
Switzerland-based Transocean insists the blast did not result from poor upkeep, that the blowout preventer was properly maintained and that the general alarm on the rig did not fail to operate automatically. It also said the engines on the rig did not fail to shut down upon detection of gas.
“When a report of this importance purports to reach conclusions and makes findings so at odds with the evidence, questions must be raised about the fact-finding process and whether an agenda, rather than evidence, served as the report’s foundation,” Transocean said in its response.
A spokeswoman for the joint federal investigation team declined to comment.
Multiple government and independent investigations have blamed a cascade of failures by several companies, including Transocean.
The Coast Guard said in its report that decisions made by workers aboard the rig “may have affected the explosions or their impact,” such as failing to follow procedures for notifying other crew members about the emergency after the blast. It also said electrical equipment that may have ignited the explosion was poorly maintained, while gas alarms and automatic shutdown systems were bypassed so that they did not alert the crew. And, the report said, rig workers didn’t receive adequate training on how and when to disconnect the rig from the well to avoid an explosion.
The April 2010 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and sparked the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. BP PLC was leasing the rig from Transocean and owned a majority stake in the well a mile beneath the sea. According to government estimates, some 206 million gallons of oil were released by the well before it was capped three months after the explosion.
Hundreds of miles of Gulf shoreline were stained with oil, fishermen and business owners lost their livelihoods, and new regulations were imposed as the offshore drilling industry was put under a microscope. BP has spent tens of billions of dollars cleaning up the mess and compensating victims, and it is seeking to recoup some of its losses from its partners on the rig.