Gulf Of Mexico Oil Spill Essay Checker


BP's report into the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is published at noon today. The company is expected to admit it is partly to blame for the disaster, but will also claim that other companies must accept some responsibility.

The explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig on 20 April killed 11 workers and began a devastating spill which leaked over 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico – the largest spill in American history. The leak took three months, and a huge variety of different attempts (see interactive), to seal before BP finally closed it off on 15 July.

The ruptured oil well is still not permanently sealed, with the company announcing last week it will be two weeks before the leak is closed off for good. The leak was only allowed to occur when the blow-out preventer – the last line of defence against an out of control well – failed to activate after the explosion above the surface.

Today's report will examine why it failed, following an internal investigation into the events leading up to the explosion nearly five months ago. In July it was revealed that the blow-out preventer was modified in China in 2005.

Our team of experts will be poring over the BP report as soon as it is released, with key sections being reported and analysed here. We'll also have the latest reaction from the global markets and from other companies potentially implicated in the spill.

Follow the latest here and offer us your response below.


My colleague Graeme Wearden writes this morning that shares in BP rose by around 1% this morning to 412p ahead of the report's publication.

City analysts Evolution Securities said the investigation could shift culpability towards Transocean – which operated the Deepwater Horizon rig on BP's behalf – and "in particular the integrity of the blowout preventer which should have acted as the ultimate fail safe", Graeme reports.

BP also received good news from Fitch this morning, which raised its credit rating on BP to A, from BBB, with a stable outlook.

Fitch said that it was now more confident that the well was capped permanently.

"The "A" rating also reflects both the improved visibility of potential liability scenarios the company could still face and substantial payments that BP has made to date in building up liquidity to address potential financial payments," Fitch added.


The report has been published on BP's website.

"The investigation found that no single factor caused the Macondo well tragedy," is BP's findings in short.

"Rather, a sequence of failures involving a number of different parties led to the explosion and fire which killed 11 people and caused widespread pollution in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year."

Much more to follow.


Some links on how to find information on the report:

You can read BP's press release regarding the report here.

BP has also produced a 29min video presenting its findings.

You can download the executive summary of the report: [pdf, opens]

Or download the report in full: [pdf, opens]


Terry Macalister, our energy editor, says a first glance at the BP report confirms expectations that the company would argue that "multiple failures" by a number of different parties were to blame for the fatal blowout.

The report points the finger at Transocean (the rig operator) and Halliburton (the well contractor) as being as much to blame for the disaster as BP. The oil company always claimed to have been unfairly singled out by US politicians and now claims to have the proof that others should be held to account also.


Damian Carrington, the Guardian's head of environment, writes:

As well as very clearly seeking to spread the blame, the end of BP's press release notes that its report is based on "information available to the investigating team".

Once again, it turns the focus on its contractors: "Additional relevant information may be forthcoming, for example, when Halliburton's samples of the cement used in the well are released for testing and when the rig's blow-out preventer [owned and operated by Transocean] is fully examined now that it has been recovered from the sea-bed."


The Guardian's Nick Fletcher is following the reaction in the financial world to the report. Shares in BP, which rose this morning, have risen again, he writes.

The stock market seems to like BP's plan to share out the blame for the Gulf spillage, judging by the initial reaction.

The company's shares - already up 6.75p at 413.55p immediately ahead of the report's release - have made further gains now the findings are out. They currently stand at 414.95p, up 8.15p or 2%.

But the market is in a jittery mood and there is no guarantee that things will stay the same once investors have had time to digest the full report. And it is worth bearing in mind BP's shares were at 650p ahead of the disaster on April 20.


Below the line, bombed writes: "I'm curious, who hired these other companies to work with BP? Was it BP themselves or some authority overseeing the whole endeavour?"

RealPol has the answer: "BP, through the tender process usually."

Interesting point.


More from Terry Macalister on BP's efforts to share the blame:

Tony Hayward, the BP chief executive, puts part of the blame directly on to US contractor Halliburton (whose former chief executive was previous US vice president, Dick Cheney) which did the "cementing" of the Macondo well.

"To put it simply, there was a bad cement job," said Hayward in a statement which conflicts with a previously published email from a Halliburton employee on the rig to a colleague saying the job "went well."

BP also takes blame away from itself over the "design" of the well. "It would appear unlikely that the well design contributed to the incident," argues Hayward.


The Guardian has a timeline charting over four months of the oil spill clean-up, environmental impact and the impact on BP and business.

We've also got a comprehensive Q&A on how the spill started, how much oil was lost and why some of the many efforts to plug the well failed.

Elsewhere, the New York Times has an all singing, all dancing graphic tracking the oil spill in the Gulf.

Seen something around the web which would worth us flagging up? You can either comment below the line or get in touch on Twitter: @adamgabbatt


BP's executive summary [pdf, opens] lists eight main issues that led to the Deepwater disaster, killing 11 people and injuring 17.

Damian Carrington has been reading the findings.

"It is, frankly speaking, quite terrifying – a catalogue of appalling shoddiness," he writes.

Damian has simplified BP's eight findings below:

1 - The cement that was supposed to stop the oil and gas shooting up the well pipe didn't work - the report blames the type of cement used

2 - Futher barriers at the bottom of the drill pipe failed to stop the hydrocarbons bursting into the well pipe

3 - Amazingly, a pressure test performed to see if the well was under control was accepted despite the readings showing the well was not under control

4 - With oil and gas now pouring up the well, it took 40 minutes to realise this

5 - Once it was realised, the hydrocarbons were not diverted "overboard" but brought onto the rig

6 - This meant the hydrocarbons "vented directly onto the rig" - a frightening image

7 - The fire prevention system on the rig failed. "The heating, ventilation and air conditioning system probably transferred a gas-rich mixture into the engine rooms". That's where it probably caught fire and destroyed the rig

8 - Key point - the blowout preventer, the ultimate failsafe failed. The fire on the rig stopped the BOP being operated, while an automated system failed in part because the BOP had flat batteries in one control pod and a faulty solenoid valve in another


More from Damian Carrington:

BP is likely to have had its legal liability for the Deepwater disaster uppermost in its mind and the executive summary bears that out: of the four and half pages of text, the first page is entirely disclaimers of one sort or another. If BP was shown to have been "grossly negligent" then the financial penalties ramp up vastly.


Terry Macalister wonders what the report suggests re safety practices across the rest of the oil industry:

What is really shocking about this report is the catalogue of errors - both human and mechanical. They demolish once and for all the oil industry's much quoted mantra that "safety always comes first." It may come first in the board room but it does not down at the wellhead where the real dangers are faced.

It is worth remembering that BP, its rig operator Transocean and the main well contractor Halliburton are the blue chip companies in the wider oil and gas sector. If the shoddy work practices highlighted here are what the best-in-class do, then what is happening in the lower reaches of this industry?


More financial reaction from Nick Fletcher:

The US market is not open yet for reaction, but Transocean's Swiss quoted shares are down nearly 1.5% following the release of the BP report suggesting the drilling contractor missed danger signs on the Deepwater Horizon rig. Meanwhile BP itself has slipped from its best levels but is still up 1.7% at 413.7p.


Damian Carrington emails: "Reaction to the BP report is starting to flow, and it's not going to be pretty."

This is from Jim Footner, head of Greenpeace's energy campaign.

"This report is a sorry catalogue of the gaffes and failures behind the Deepwater Horizon disaster. And it's highly likely that a truly independent report would be even more damning for BP.

"Worryingly, they're just weeks away from drilling at similar depths in UK waters. The Government must step in right now and stop this by introducing a moratorium on deep water drilling.

"But the real problem is our addiction to oil, which is pushing companies like BP to put lives and the environment at risk. The age of oil is coming to an end and companies like BP will be left behind unless they begin to adapt now. The time has come to move beyond oil and invest in clean energy."


Our US environment correspondent, Suzanne Goldenberg, has been speaking to Alfred R Sunsen – owner of New Orleans oyster company P&J, which is now facing ruin after 134 years in business.

Sunsen said he believes the report was "pretty thorough", although points out that BP said it carried out the report with limited access to physical evidence.

The oyster business owner writes:

The report does not address the people, businesses, animals, or natural resources that have been impacted by the disaster and will be dealing with the consequences of their inadequate and slow response to the disaster.

Me as well as my friends in the oyster business in Louisiana are in big trouble and will be for some time to come… Talk is cheap.

When BP shows me a report of how exactly they will deal with those people most impacted by this tragedy, i.e. those in the fisheries related businesses, I'll believe they are not just using their talents in public relations to dispel their liability, but have a plan to help us salvage our businesses and retain our livelihoods and heritage, by paying our bills until we are "made whole" as Mr Hayward and Mr Obama said months ago.

Suzanne has just arrived at the Washington DC hotel where Mark Bly – BP's head of safety and operations – is giving a briefing.

You can follow her tweets from the meeting @suzyji


Time for a round-up of the day's events so far.

BP has released the findings of its investigation into the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The company has listed eight different issues which let to the Deepwater disaster, including that a test performed to see if the well was under control was accepted – despite the readings showing the well was not under control.

The company has, as expected, sought to share the blame for the explosion and spill. In a press release accompanying the report Tony Hayward, BP's outgoing chief executive, said: "To put it simply, there was a bad cement job." It was US contractor Halliburton which cemented of the Macondo well.

The report also points the finger at Transocean, which operated the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. "The negative pressure test was accepted when it should not have been [see top bullet-point], there were failures in well control procedures and in the blow-out preventer; and the rig's fire and gas system did not prevent ignition," Hayward said.

Greenpeace has criticised BP, describing the report as a "sorry catalogue of gaffes and failures". Jim Footner, head of the charity's energy campaign, said: "It's highly likely that a truly independent report would be even more damning for BP." He added that the company are "weeks away" from drilling at similar depths in UK waters.

BP's share price rose after the report was published, with shares up by 2% half an hour after publication. Later this afternoon the share price had fallen slightly but was still up 1.7%, at 413.7p. However this is a long way from the 650p BP's shares were trading at before the disaster on 20 April.

No response from the White House yet to the report, although President Obama's press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about it in yesterday's press briefing.

Gibbs appears to say that the US government had not seen a copy of the report, which seems strange. Here's the exchange:

Q: BP is going to release its report tomorrow into the causes of the oil spill. Has the White House had an advance look at this? And secondly, given the past relationship between the administration and the company, what level of confidence do you have that this is going to produce a genuine finding into what caused the accident?

Gibbs: Well, look, I'll say this. I know of no one that has seen it here. I've certainly seen emails alluding to the notion that -- and clips alluding to the notion that this is -- this will be released. Obviously I think we'd want a chance to look at the report.

I think an important partner of that investigation, Stephen, ultimately is going to get -- is going to be a look at the blowout preventer itself, which only recently, in the last few days, has been brought to the surface, and will give us a chance to see whether was this a design flaw, was this something that was just a problem that this blowout preventer had to deal with, and a whole host of things.

So we'll certainly look through the report. Obviously -- look through the report and may have some comment about it. But I do not know of anybody who has seen an advance copy.

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