Oil Spill Crude Disaster

Oct 6, 2010 9:32 PM by Alison Haynes

Blowout preventer testing not started

METAIRIE, La. (AP) - The 300-ton device that failed to stop the
massive Gulf oil spill - considered a key piece of evidence in the
investigation into the disaster - has not been analyzed a month
after it was raised from the seafloor, a Coast Guard official told
The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The government had told a federal judge that necessary equipment
would be procured and sufficient space for the blowout preventer
would be constructed so the examination could begin on Oct. 1. But
the analysis has yet to begin because officials are still waiting
for testing procedures to be approved, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Suzanne
Kerver told the AP.
The delay could prolong the work of a federal panel
investigating the cause of the oil rig explosion and the spill it
triggered. A multi-agency government investigative team has the
final say on the testing techniques, according to court records.
"It's really important that they get those procedures vetted,"
Kerver said. "They want to absolutely ensure it is done accurately
and appropriately."
The device was raised from the seafloor on Sept. 4 and later
taken to a NASA facility in New Orleans where officials from the
space agency say it is being preserved for testing. A Justice
Department spokesman declined to comment on the delay.
An April 20 blast aboard the Deepwater Horizon offshore rig
killed 11 workers and led to more than 200 million gallons of oil
spewing from BP PLC's undersea well. Blowout preventers are hulking
devices that are designed to shut in oil in the event of an
explosion or major well-control problem. In the Deepwater Horizon
case, the valves would not stay closed, allowing oil to spew into
the sea.
The joint U.S. Coast Guard-Bureau of Energy Management,
Regulation and Enforcement panel, which is also trying to find ways
to improve safety, was holding hearings in New Orleans this week.
In Wednesday testimony, a BP contractor who handled logistics
aboard the doomed rig was asked about a helicopter flight that took
workers for oil services firm Schlumberger off the vessel hours
before the explosion. Also, a BP negotiator who handles agreements
involving offshore projects was asked about the cost of building
the well that blew out and the relationship between BP and its
partners.
BP was a majority owner of the well that blew out and was
leasing the rig that exploded from Transocean Ltd.
BP offshore land negotiator Michael Beirne said that there are
e-mails showing that minority well owners Anadarko Petroleum Corp.
and MOEX 2007 LLC were provided real-time data from the rig in the
days before the explosion.
The disclosure could be a factor down the road in parceling out
financial liability for the disaster.
BP has already spent more than $11 billion related to the
cleanup and response to the spill. It also has agreed to set aside
$20 billion for a victim's compensation fund, and it faces tens of
billions of dollars in fines, penalties and other potential
liabilities from the disaster.
Anadarko and MOEX would be excused from paying their share of
the damages if BP were deemed grossly negligent or shown to have
committed willful misconduct, according to an agreement among the
three parties. Absent such a finding, the partners would be
responsible for a portion of the damages, depending on the amount
of their culpability, according to testimony at the hearings
Wednesday.
Beirne also testified that the Macondo well project was nearly
$60 million over budget days before the explosion.

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