US panel backs BP oil spill finding

White House oil spill investigation commission says BP did not sacrifice safety to save money.

    The White House oil spill commission has said it found no evidence to support accusations that the largest offshore oil spill in US history happened because BP Plc and its partners cut corners to save money.

    "To date we have not seen a single instance where a human being made a conscious decision to favour dollars over safety," said the commission's chief cousel Fred Bartlit on Monday. 

    Bartlit said the panel agreed with about 90 per cent of the findings of BP's internal investigation of the accident released this summer. BP's report assigned much of the blame for the accident to its drilling partners.

    Some lawmakers and critics have accused BP and other companies involved in drilling the well of sacrificing safety for monetary savings in the run up to rig explosion that killed 11 workers and unleashed millions of barrels of oil into Gulf over the summer.

    But Bartlit said the commission's preliminary investigation, which was not focused on legal liability or assigning blame, found no evidence of this. He released a stinging report last month that said Halliburton Co used flawed cement in BP's doomed Macondo well.

    Barack Obama, the US president, created the seven-member commission in the aftermath of drilling accident. Its ultimate charge is to develop proposals to prevent and respond to major spills in the future.

    Blame game

    The report did not absolve BP of blame, but its sharp criticism of Halliburton's cementing job sent that company's stock down as much at 16 per cent.

    Representatives from BP and Halliburton, as well as Transocean Ltd, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, were scheduled to present their perspectives on the events that led to the spill.

    BP has accused Halliburton of using an unstable cement design and said Transocean failed to test the automatic shut-off function on the blowout preventer before it was used on the rig.

    Transocean has denied those charges and said BP's well design was a key factor in the accident.

    Halliburton has also defended its cement work on the well, and blamed other actions for causing the explosion.

    The oil well was sealed on September 19.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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