A Transocean Employee on the Deepwater Investigation?

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


The Houston Chronicle‘s Fuel Fix posted an interesting piece late Tuesday night about a notable conflict of interest in the investigation into the cause of the Deepwater Horizon explosion. The paper cites documents that indicate that a supervisor from Transocean, the rig’s owner, has participated in tests on the blowout preventer—a key piece of evidence in the ongoing investigation.

According to the documents, the paper reports that “the Transocean employee has manipulated equipment on the 50-foot-tall, 300-ton blowout preventer, while a government contractor runs it through a battery of tests in New Orleans.” More from the article:

The government contracted the forensic analysis firm Det Norske Veritas to run the equipment through tests designed to shed light on why key pipe-cutting and hole-closing components failed to slash through drill pipe and seal off the well hole.

DNV later arranged for Owen McWhorter, onetime subsea supervisor on the Deepwater Horizon, to assist in the testing.

The government instructed DNV to terminate its contract with McWhorter after concerns were raised last week by the Chemical Safety Board, a federal agency also investigating the disaster.

The decision to use the Transocean employee as a consultant appeared to violate a conflict-of-interest provision in the government’s contract with DNV, acknowledged Michael Farber, a senior adviser for the ocean energy bureau, in a letter to the Chemical Safety Board.

Yikes. The piece says the government instructed DNV to remove McWhorter from the project after the conflict was pointed out. The tests they are conducting on the blowout preventer are crucial to figuring out what exactly went wrong on the Deepwater Horizon, since, as the name would imply, this device was supposed to prevent such a disaster from occurring. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE) and the Coast Guard are investigating the causes of the disaster.

As Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) noted in a letter to BOEMRE head Michael Bromwich on Tuesday, the involvement of a Transocean staffer should raise “serious questions as to the credibility and objectivity” of the investigation.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate