"This was not our accident. This was not our drilling rig. This was not our equipment. It was not our people, our systems or our processes. This was Transocean's rig. Their systems. Their people. Their equipment." - Tony Hayward, Head of BP Group.

In previous post, I discussed the cementing work performed by Halliburton. This Wall Street Journal story (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870396920457522063063839762... ), provides that petroleum engineers now believe the blow out was "probably related to the cementing process." This will most assuredly place some degree of fault upon Halliburton. But, would the disaster have been this severe had the blowout preventer worked as designed? The answer to this question points the finger at Cameron International Corp.

The Wall Street Journal story linked above says BP learned "from evacuees who escaped the burning rig that workers had tried to activate the shear rams," which are an "intergral part of the giant blowout preventer" that are "supposed to seal off out-of-control oil and gas wells by pinching the pipe closed and cutting it." Obviously, the shear rams didn't do their job, and there is evidence that Cameron should have known they wouldn't do their job well before this blowout.

In a 2004 study, the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service "raised significant questions about the ability of rams to cut through the stronger pipes used in deep-water drilling." The MMS observed that "[o]nly three of 14 newly built rigs had blowout preventers that were able to squeeze off and cut the pipe at the water pressure likely to be experienced at the equipment's maximum water depth." Perhaps most damning, the study "singled out Cameron for relying on calculations to determine the needed strength of shear arms using 'shear forces lower than required or desired in many cases.'"

So, to summarize: BP has a history of 5 catastrophic events in 5 years. Halliburton appears to have done shoddy cementing work, again. Transocean was operating the rig, and Cameron's shear arms were previously shown to fail in deepwater drilling.

Class action lawsuits. Individual lawsuits. Lawsuits brought by the states. Adverse political consequences in Washington and across state legislatures. These companies may be in trouble that's far deeper than the Gulf of Mexico.


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