The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Oil Spill Probe: Dollars Did Not Trump Safety

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted November 9, 2010

The lead investigator for the presidential panel examining the Deepwater Horizon accident yesterday said he has found no evidence that anyone involved in the Macondo well took shortcuts to save money.

Fred H. Bartlit Jr. told the commission, "To date we have not seen a single instance where a human being made a conscious decision to favor dollars over safety." His findings disputed the claims of members of Congress and other investigators who have accused BP, Transocean and Halliburton of cutting corners. The Macondo well blowout killed 11 workers and resulted in a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

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After hearing Bartlit's preliminary findings into the causes of the accident, Commission co-chairman William Reilly told reporters, "What we have really heard today is a story of what appears to be several very human decisions made by competent professionals who missed signals."

Yesterday's report did not address the blowout preventer (BOP) that apparently failed to prevent gas from surging up the well and causing an explosion. Bartlit said he would wait for forensic analysis on the BOP before reaching any conclusions.

The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill is expected to release its final report in January. Its two-day hearing continues today and is being streamed live.

A separate probe being conducted by a joint Coast Guard-Interior Department board will complete its investigation by late March.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.