The Economist looks at the preliminary release of the National Oil Spill Commission’s report:
TONY HAYWARD, BP’s chief executive when the Deepwater Horizon rig caught fire and sank in April 2010, famously remarked that, “To put it simply, there was a bad cement job.” The report of the National Oil Spill Commission set up by Barack Obama to look into the loss of the rig and the subsequent massive oil spill, a portion of which was released on January 6th, differs subtly but crucially. The fundamental problem was not the dodgy cementing: it was BP’s failure to exercise proper caution before relying on that cementing.
As previous analyses of the accident, including BP’s own, have shown, the flawed cementing that let oil into the bottom of the supposedly sealed well was not the only issue. Subsequent portents were missed, procedures altered and tests muffed which should have saved the rig. Where the new report stands out is in showing how options that would have reduced the risk, like thorough cement testing, were systematically forgone in favour of cheaper alternatives without due consideration.