This text is published in “The Louisiana Weekly” in the Oct. 7, 2013 version.)
As the Macondo trial’s Part Two began in U.S. District Court docket in New Orleans Monday, with Judge Carl Barbier presiding, BP contractors Transocean and Halliburton have been aligned with the plaintiffs, together with Louisiana and Alabama, towards BP. The aligned events contend BP was grossly negligent in responding to the spill that adopted the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion. They declare the properly might have been capped that will, as a substitute of the next July.
Section Two includes the federal government’s consolidated, civil motion in opposition to BP and Anadarko under the Clean Water Act and Oil Pollution Act.
Phase Two is divided into a few elements. The first phase, which lasted 4 days and wrapped up Thursday, was about source control, Barbier stated. “This involves proof and testimony as to what occurred at the time the Deepwater Horizon sank, the riser fractured and oil started to flee, till 87 days later when the properly was capped,” he said. In Part Two’s first segment, Barbier allowed every side–the aligned events versus BP–15 hours of testimony.
Starting on Oct. 7, the second part of Part Two–the quantification segment–begins. In it, the events are the United States versus BP and Anadarko. “I’ve allowed twelve days, a complete of forty five hours for each facet, for quantification,” Barbier mentioned. Penalties will not be assessed in Part Two however shall be the subject of a later trial.
Legal professional Brian Barr, in his opening assertion Monday for the aligned parties, stated BP’s spill-response plan earlier than the Macondo accident was nearly 600-pages with just one page on source control. That web page mentioned if the spill’s source could not be managed by the operator or distant means, BP would assemble experts to respond. BP’s plan was merely a plan to plan, and “responders were left to make issues up on the fly as oil gushed into the Gulf,” Barr mentioned.
Barr mentioned the feds didn’t have the know-the best way to shut the properly. “That experience was anticipated to rest with the operator BP,” he mentioned. The government wasn’t aware that BP had neither the expertise nor procedures in place to cease the circulation, nonetheless. Barr stated if BP had been ready for a attainable blowout, the well might have been capped within days or weeks, not months.
In his opening statement, Brad Brian on behalf of Transocean and the aligned events, stated BP misrepresented the circulation price in April and should of 2010, delaying the properly’s capping. BP repeatedly stated 5,000 barrels a day was its best circulate estimate and withheld documents displaying much greater rates. “The implications of BP’s misrepresentations and concealment had been unhealthy selections, a false diagnosis of why the top kill supply-control method they used failed, and tragically the rejection in Might of an alternative technique–the blowout preventer on blowout preventer that was ready to be put in and would have capped this properly lengthy earlier than it was capped,” Brian mentioned.
A top kill attempt, which concerned pumping drilling mud to stop the nicely’s flow, failed in late May 2010. A BOP is a security machine used to seal a properly.
In January of this yr, BP pleaded guilty to withholding internal documents containing circulation estimates that were effectively above 5,000 barrels per day, Brian noted. Through the spill, BP modelers despatched doable circulation rates of a hundred and ten,000 barrels per day and higher to their bosses in BP, he stated. On May 10, 2010, BP edited a chart so as to point out a a lot lower, worst-case situation of the flow, and inserted a probably charge of 5,000 barrels a day.
“On May sixteen, 2010, the Unified Command authorised BP’s suggestion to do the top kill,” Brian said. The Unified Command included the U.S. Coast Guard and quite a few different federal companies, together with BP and Transocean. “However inside hours of that call, they learned from their exterior marketing consultant, Dr. Ole Rygg at Add Power, that the highest kill procedure they have been contemplating wouldn’t work if the effectively was flowing at 15,000 barrels per day or higher,” Brian stated. Add Vitality, based mostly in Norway with an office in Houston, was contracted by BP to help in well management.
Even after the top kill effort failed in Could, BP still would not admit the scale of its circulate rate, Brian said. BP’s false circulate statements formed the restoration effort and vastly delayed the effectively’s capping, he mentioned.
In his opening statement Monday, Don Godwin for Halliburton and the aligned events, also mentioned BP’s lowballing of the effectively’s circulation and its lack of preparation for a blowout delayed the capping course of.
Mike Brock, representing BP, in his opening noted that 700 engineers and technicians labored in the company’s Houston middle in two shifts a day throughout the spill. “All of those individuals had been dedicated to getting this nicely shut in as quickly as possible,” he mentioned. “It defies common sense to say that we might delay by two months the shut-in because we did not need to say one thing about why prime kill had failed.”
Underlying its spill response, BP had a number of guiding ideas, Brock said. “First, do not take any motion that makes issues worse,” he mentioned. “You are going to see when we take a look at the choice about BOP-on-BOP, versus prime kill versus other choices like collection, that that is a big overriding principle.” The other rules were “work choices in parallel; go away no stone unturned; spare no expense,” he mentioned.
Brock mentioned the 5,000 barrel-per-day flow estimate got here from the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Everybody understood that there was significant uncertainty that went with that quantity,” he mentioned. Federal scientists and technicians embedded in BP’s Houston center have been working closely with BP. “They had been talking on the water cooler,” he stated. “They were brazenly sharing information at that middle.”
Brock stated the feds weren’t misled and knew the move fee could be over 15,000 barrels per day before the highest-kill procedure was attempted.
“In the end, the capping stack was utilized to seal the properly on July 15, 2010,” Brock mentioned. “BP did not misrepresent circulation charge in a approach that caused a delay of the shut-in. It made cheap engineering selections based mostly on what was recognized at every step alongside the best way, conserving in mind the principles of do no harm, work all choices in parallel, go away no stone unturned. That’s not fraud. That’s not gross negligence.” A capping stack is a machine used to shut off the movement from a properly.
On Monday, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology professor John Wilson, beneath cross examination from Hariklia Karis on behalf of BP, discussed a few of the issues with BP’s having underestimated its circulate. “If the flow fee is sufficiently high, such that the momentum kill would not work, that also suggests the circulate fee is sufficiently excessive because there’s not lots of obstructions in the blowout preventer,” Wilson stated. “And if there are fewer obstructions in the BOP, there’s much less probability that the junk shot would succeed simply by a matter of physics.” Junk photographs, something BP tried in late Might 2010, involve injecting golf balls, shredded tires and different materials to obstruct the circulate of oil.
Rob Turlak, who manages subsea engineering and effectively-management methods for Transocean, worked on a BOP-on-BOP set up plan to cap the effectively. But it surely was delayed in Might after which shelved in June. Underneath examination from lawyer Luis Li on behalf of Transocean and the aligned events, Turlak said Tuesday he by no means got an evidence about why BP scrapped the BOP-on-BOP strategy.
On Tuesday, Texas petroleum engineer Edward Ziegler, an aligned events expert witness on properly control, noted that BP admitted to having spent nothing on analysis and growth for source plans. If the corporate had developed such plans earlier than the blowout, the circulate would not have lasted so lengthy, he said.
“You want an actual plan instantly when the event starts,” Ziegler mentioned. “You have a effectively flowing out of control so you do not begin having meetings and groups and attempting things and totally different choices. You even have a plan and also you instantly do it.” He mentioned BP thought of various strategies, together with an initial plan to make use of a BOP on a BOP. “Then they modified that,” he mentioned. BP modified plans about which rigs to use in its properly-control operations.
“By the point they put the precise capping system on the nicely in July of 2010, that was the sixth completely different machine that they had began on,” Ziegler stated. BP might have placed a capping stack on the nicely on the seafloor in Might, monitored pressures and might need closed the well by mid-Could, he said. A capping gadget was readily available on Transocean’s Discoverer Enterprise drilling rig however a plan to use it was scrapped, he said.
“I heard the BP gentleman in the opening say there have been so many uncertainties and so many unknowns, and that’s why BP could not do certain issues,” Ziegler said, referring to Brock’s opening feedback. But “you have to get the data, and the technique to get it is to place the cap on there with management-and-movement gear and get hold of the data,” he said. “Instead of worrying about it and fretting and wringing your palms for two months, just do it instantly.” He stated it was clear in July 2010 that the nicely had integrity but that might have been learned two months earlier.
On Wednesday, James Dupree, BP’s chief working officer of useful resource growth and technology, testified about how the circulate was stopped with a capping stack on July 15, 2010. “We monitored the stress,” he stated. “We eventually have been satisfied that no broach was ongoing. We watched the sea ground in order that there was no threat of a broach. Then we rigged up on the nicely and killed it by pumping mud down. We pumped a big cement slug into the nicely and cemented the effectively from the bottom.” That process of installing the stack to cementing the bottom took 4.77 days.
On Thursday, Iain Adams, managing director of nicely-engineering agency Norwell in Scotland and BP’s skilled witness on response to the blowout, mentioned beneath examination from Hariklia Karis that a must discover choices, consider knowledge and peer reviews, and mitigate threat extended the time it took to kill the nicely. “If a pre-constructed capping stack had been put in the way in which the aligned parties recommended, in a week or a couple of weeks, you’d have had to mainly ignore the key dangers of nicely integrity and installation vessels,” he said. The three-ram stack that killed the well in July 2010 could not have been deployed immediately after the blowout because dangers had to be thought-about first, he mentioned.
In testimony Tuesday, U.C. Berkeley engineering professor Robert Bea, a catastrophic danger skilled, stated that before the April 2010 accident BP estimated a Macondo blowout could value between one hundred million and one billion dollars, while Bea had predicted it could tremendously exceed ten billion dollars.