Hours before the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April, there were strong warning signs that something was terribly amiss with the well.
There were several “red flags” that suggested a potential sign of an impeding blow out, according to a memorandum addressed to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce from BP. One of the red flags included several equipment readings suggesting that gas was bubbling into the well. Another red flag was a critical decision, 24 hours prior to the explosion, to replace heavy mud in the pipe rising from the seabed with seawater, which possibly increased the risk of an explosion.
Drillings logs indicate that shortly after midnight on the morning of the explosion, attention had turned to temporarily plugging and capping the well so the rig could disconnect and move to another job. Halliburton, one of BP’s contractors, had been responsible for plugging the well. Halliburton had also been hired to cement each new segment of the well into place. Questions have been raised, however, about the cementing services provided by Halliburton.
Additionally, BP indicated that there might have been some problems with the blowout preventer at least 5 hours before the explosion. The blowout preventer is the stack of valves and rams on the seafloor designed to seal off the well in case of an emergency. Finally, it was noted that two hours before the explosion, a series of tests indicated “a very large abnormality,” and that workers might have made a “fundamental mistake” in ignoring it.
Although these findings are preliminary, they are helpful in determining who is responsible for the accident on April 20 that took 11 lives and has caused a massive torrent of oil to pour into the gulf, affecting people and businesses alike.
If your business has been affected as a result of the Gulf oil spill, please contact us immediately to discuss your legal rights.