Presidential Commission Opens Hearings On Gulf Blowout

Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage

Monday, a Presidential Commission opened two days of hearings on the BP Gulf of Mexico blowout. They saw a picture of a piece of pipe from the deepwater well site that had literally been sandblasted to shreds by the force of the material coming out of the well. The Presidential Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling heard its Chief Counsel, Fred Bartlit, reveal his findings about the spill, and quiz executives of BP and its contractors about whether they agreed or disagreed with those findings. Bartlit says it does not look as if anyone involved with the well was deliberately taking safety risks to save money.

BP and its contractors Halliburton and Trans-Ocean have deep disagreements about what caused the blowout, and Bartlit said one way to get to the bottom of these disagreements would be to have subpoena power to get testimony under oath and be able to cross examine witnesses. But that’ something the Congress has so far not given the Commission, and its report is due in January.

Halliburton was responsible for the cement that was used to cap the well. That cement failed – oil, gas and sand came right up through it. Halliburton contends the cement might have worked better if BP had done more to keep the center part of the well separate from the casing.

Trans-Ocean was the drilling contractor. It is conducting an internal investigation of the incident, and today Trans-Ocean’s Special Projects Director Bill Ambrose shared some of the results – including a picture of the pipe that was not completely pinched off by blow-out preventer – or BOP – located at the wellhead. He told Bartlit that in a matter of just a couple of minutes it was simply shredded by the force of the material swirling out:

That was Spill Commission Chief Counsel Fred Bartlit questioning Trans-Ocean executive Bill Ambrose. The hearings continue Tuesday in Washington.

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