A new series of emails released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee reveals specific places where BP decided to cut costs and sacrifice safety—including an email describing the soon-to-explode rig as a "nightmare well."
Well, Representatives Henry Waxman (D - CA) and Bart Stupak (D - MI) sent BP CEO Tony Hayward a 14-page letter. And not, like, a fun pen pal letter: A mad letter. In it, the chairmen of the House Energy and Commerce Committee outlined the decisions BP made that contributed to the utter catastrophe currently pumping millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico:
At the time of the blowout, the Macondo well was significantly behind schedule. This appears to have created pressure to take shortcuts to speed finishing the well. In particular, the Committee is focusing on five crucial decisions made by BP:
(1) the decision to use a well design with few barriers to gas flow;
(2) the failure to use a sufficient number of "centralizers" to prevent channeling during the cement process;
(3) the failure to run a cement bond log to evaluate the effectiveness of the cement job;
(4) the failure to circulate potentially gas-bearing drilling muds out of the well; and
(5) the failure to secure the wellhead with a lockdown sleeve before allowing pressure on the seal from below.
The common feature of these five decisions is that they posed a trade-off between cost and well safety.
So bad that BP ignored advice from their contractor, Halliburton, to use more centralizers when cementing the well bore. Hallibuton—the evilest company in the world!—wanted to use a safer option than BP did. BP's position on the centralizers, as with basically everything about this disaster, seems to have been: "Whatever." One BP official—Brett Cocales—wrote in an email, "who cares, it's done, end of story, will probably be fine." Which is, as you may have heard recently, the exact opposite of what it was.
So bad that BP declined a 12-hour test of the cement's integrity, and a 12-hour mud circulation that could have detected the gas pockets that caused the rig's explosion. So bad that the company chose the riskier—but cheaper, of course!—option when securing the well's final section. I bet that extra $7 to $10 million isn't looking like so much now, is it?