BP Plc (BP) officials overseeing the Macondo well that spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico ignored questions about whether safety tests done hours before a fatal blast on the drilling rig were flawed, lawyers for Transocean Ltd. (RIG) said in a court filing.
Donald Vidrine, the senior BP manager on the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20, 2010, talked with an engineer about unsatisfactory well tests less than an hour before an explosion killed 11 workers on the rig and sent oil pouring into the waters off Louisiana, Transocean’s attorneys said in a filing tied to a trial set for tomorrow with billions of dollars at stake. Transocean owned the rig and was drilling in a well owned by BP and other partners.
While Mark Hafle, a Houston-based BP drilling engineer, warned Vidrine in a phone call that stability tests on the well might be flawed, “neither man stopped work” at the facility, Transocean officials said in the Feb. 24 filing. The BP officials allowed crews to continue displacing drilling fluid in the well with seawater, company lawyers said in the filing. Once the fluid was removed, the lighter seawater couldn’t stop natural gas from leaking into the well, leading to the explosion, the filing said.
The filing came three days before BP, Transocean, the U.S. government and plaintiffs suing over the oil spill are scheduled to begin a trial in New Orleans to apportion blame for the disaster and determine exposure to punitive damages.
Next week's trial is going to be a pretty big deal, and I'm certainly going to be paying plenty of attention to it, as should you.
Especially the "apportion of blame and punitive damages" part.