And Now: BP admits failing to use industry risk test at any of its deepwater wells in the US

BP was facing fresh criticism over its approach to safety on Saturday night after critics said it did not use an industry standard process to asses risk ahead of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.


The procedure, known as a safety case, was developed in Britain after the catastrophic Piper Alpha oil rig explosion of 1988 in which 167 people lost their lives.

Royal Dutch Shell confirmed that it always develops safety cases – a lengthy written document – on each of its thousands of wells in the world, even though they are only mandatory in some countries.

However, BP admitted to The Sunday Telegraph that it does not use safety cases on any of its US wells, including the high-pressure deep water Macondo well from which up to 60,000 barrels of oil per day are still leaking in the Gulf of Mexico.

It is now 75 days since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank, killing 11 men and triggering the catastrophic spill.

The US Government wants to make the safety case process a legal requirement for floating offshore drilling – one of five recommendations to change processes in the Gulf.

BP has already been criticised for its well design, its failure to control pressure, lack of capability to deal with an accident and problems with the blowout preventer – the key fail-safe device meant to prevent a leak.

It has also been attacked by US politicians for appearing to choose options that saved the company time and money.

The rig was costing it $1m per day to hire and the drilling was already running 30 days late and over-budget when the accident happened.

Henry Waxman, a fiercely critical US congressman, has accused BP of “cutting corner after corner” on a well that was described by its own engineers as a nightmare.

In a letter to BP’s chief executive, Tony Hayward, Mr Waxman asked why heavy mud to restrain pressure had been replaced by a lighter fluid and the well had been designed with only a single barrier casing instead of two.

He also accuses the company of not spending enough on centralisers, devices to help keep equipment straight to ensure a successful cement job, and of failing to lock down the top of the well’s casing.

Mr Hayward is expected to stand down when the leak is plugged, which BP hopes will happen when relief wells are completed in August.

By Rowena Mason
Published: 8:55PM BST 03 Jul 2010

Source: The Telegraph

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