BP Overruled Drillers in Hours Before Blast


There was more evidence today that BP pushed drillers to break protocol and ignore warnings in the hours leading up the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon. A congressional report released last night included a number of new disclosures, and in a hearing in Louisiana today, the rig’s chief mechanic indicated that BP made decisions that may have lead to the deadly blast.

The Times-Picayune in New Orleans reports from today’s joint hearing by the Coast Guard and the Minerals Management Service:

The chief mechanic on the Deepwater Horizon testified Wednesday that he was at a planning meeting 11 hours before the rig exploded at which the BP company man overruled drillers from rig owner Transocean and insisted on displacing protective drilling mud from the riser that connected the rig to the oil well.

“I recall a skirmish between the company man, the OIM (offshore installation manager), the tool-pusher and the driller,” said Doug Brown, one of 115 rig workers who survived the April 20 disaster. “The driller was outlining what would be taking place, whereupon the company man stood up and said, ‘No, we’ll be having some changes to that.’ It had to do with displacing the riser for later on. The OIM, tool-pusher and driller disagreed with that, but the company man said, ‘Well, this is how it’s gonna be,’ and the tool-pusher, driller and OIM reluctantly agreed.”

The more we hear, this looks less like a freak “accident” than the result of the choice by those in charge to cut corners and ignore glaring warning signs.

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.