HomeQ&AIs it really BP's fault that al this oil came out of the ground?

Is it really BP's fault that al this oil came out of the ground?


it probably is, maybe not, i don't know. no one would tell me! i thought it was best to ask you!

updated JUL 11, 2010
edited by --Mariana--
posted by Kiol-Corio
anyone - Kiol-Corio, JUL 10, 2010

17 Answers


When drilling for oil/gas a process is used called "Hydraulic fracturing" also known as 'Fracing'. It very often weakens the structural integrity of the surrounding area, and as a result has certain obvious 'complications' that can arise.

In United States domain, thanks to Dick Cheney almost all regulations were removed from energy companies in a law put in place which is commonly referred to as the "Halliburton Loophole".

My point is that Yes, BP knew the risks and because there are no laws (in the USA) governing or restricting their methodology, BP elected NOT to use common safeguards as a cost-saving measure.

Ultimately, BP caused this incredible disaster to save a few dollars but the United States government, by way of Dick Cheney implementing this law, set the stage for things like this to happen. At this very moment, that law is still sitting there - why isn't that being discussed? Who knows!


updated JUL 11, 2010
posted by primus
When this finally goes to trial I am sure that the government regulatory agencies will be among the people pointing fingers at each other for shared blame. There is plenty to go around. - 0074b507, JUL 11, 2010
The fact that too many policy makers have too close ties with the energy providers has not escaped anyone's attention. - 0074b507, JUL 11, 2010
Methinks you hit the nail on the head, gfreed! - Brynleigh, JUL 11, 2010
Quentin - why should it go to trial? The Piper Alpha disaster never "went to trial" - that killed 176 people. - ian-hill, JUL 11, 2010

No it is not solely their fault.

The question is much more complicated than that.

updated JUL 11, 2010
posted by ian-hill

BP are taking the blame anyway. I see ads all the time put out by them saying that they accept FULL responsibility for what happened. Maybe some company they contracted had some blame in it too, but they wouldn't be saying such things if it wasn't really their fault.

updated JUL 11, 2010
posted by 003487d6
I agree. If BP didn't know that it was, at least, partially responsible then it would be unfair to their shareholders to accept responsibility just to appear magnanimous. They must know that they are legally culpable. - 0074b507, JUL 10, 2010
What makes you come to that conclusion? What option did they have? None! USA get off your "high horse" - ian-hill, JUL 10, 2010
They accepted responsibility because they are responsible but so are several other agencies who now renage on that responsibilty. - ian-hill, JUL 10, 2010
Yes, but how common is it to admit that responsibility before you must. How many times do you hear I can't discuss a pending litigation or On the advice of my attorney I should not discuss the matter. I think they knew those responses would fuel anger - 0074b507, JUL 11, 2010
so they conceded responsibilty. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, just unusual so I think they knew denial was counterproductive. No one is forgetting our gov. regulatory's failures in this preventable accident. - 0074b507, JUL 11, 2010
My high horse?? America could never, ever be accused of being an environemntal role model. I was just saying that if BP accepts that it is their fault, why would we think otherwise? I mentioned that they're not all to blame. - 003487d6, JUL 11, 2010

Yes it is entirely their fault.

updated JUL 11, 2010
posted by Snowleopard
No it is not ! - ian-hill, JUL 10, 2010

Primus talks about Fracing. The oil companies have been in our beautiful but sparsely populated countries in the past few years hosting meetings trying to prove to us how safe and eco-friendly hydraulic fracturing is.The brochures are beautiful with oil derricks set with a backdrop of mountains with antelope grazing in the foreground.

This area is high desert and has only about 14 inches of rainfall a year in good years.The process threatens do jeopordize the water supply of all living things in the area by pollution AND the use of untold millions of gallons of water used in the process to recover the oil.Mineral rights are separate from land ownership and the legal trail of those is very confusing.Anyone could wake up one morning with drilling going on on their land.

At one public meeting one of the attorneys for Big Oil Company (they are all here and it doesn't matter which one) stood in front of the meeting and yelled at us to "just shut up because (we) are ignorant and can not comprehend the science".

Unfortunately we are not a united front. This is a very poor area and some people with different views will invite drilling for economic and other reasons.

Still on the topic of energy but adressing coal and water, another precious resource. The Peabody Coal company owns a mine near Kayenta, AZ.Google Monument Valley and you will see the area.This is on the Navajo Nation.The annual rainfall in northeastern AZ is about 3 inches annually.When they strip mine the coal it is made into a slurry with water obtained from an aquifer that is the one of the major sources of water for people and livestock in the area.Billions of gallons are used to move this hundreds of miles to its point of use.The coal is burned to light places like Los Angeles.There are many coal fired electric plants on the Navajo Reservation. The clouds of pollution in the air hang in the skies around Shiprock ( you can google and see that rock formation too) Most of the people on the reservation do not have electricity or running water.You draw your own conclusions.

We fuel the greed of the energy companies.

Right now I have a photovotaic system linked to the grid and make enough electricity that I get a monthly check from the power company.Making PV panels is polluting.It is hard to make choices without consequences but we all need to take a hard look at our personal habits and hopefully the cumulative effect will make a difference.

updated JUL 11, 2010
posted by nizhoni1
Wow. that was amazing! but you didn't answer the question... haha - Kiol-Corio, JUL 11, 2010
Yes I did. It is all related and there is one sentence that answers the question - nizhoni1, JUL 11, 2010

There is an old saying that goes something like"If you're not part of the solution then you are part of the problem".

So far BP has had no solution for this disaster. The government has had no solution either. In my opinion they are both part of the problem. As has already been stated, proper measures should have been in place by BP before starting the project and it is the governments responsibility by way of regulations to make sure that our environment is protected. They failed miserably in this case. They both need to accept blame and learn from this dreadful mistake and make sure it does not happen again.

updated JUL 11, 2010
edited by Brynleigh
posted by Brynleigh
I believe BP have tried to resolve the problem, allbeit with little success. - fontanero, JUL 11, 2010
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Would you agree? - Brynleigh, JUL 11, 2010

Based on internal memos, publicly available documents and formal testimony this is what is some of what is currently known regarding the accident:

• BP, which owns the lease to the well it was drilling, though the rig itself belonged to Transocean, has already admitted (partial) liability for the April 20 explosion and subsequent devastation.

• Many drilling experts agree that blame probably lies with flaws in the "cementing" process -- that is, plugging holes in the pipeline seal by pumping cement into it from the rig. Halliburton was in charge of cementing for Deepwater Horizon.

• BP was warned by cement contractor Halliburton that the well could have "severe gas flow [sic] problem" if BP lowered the final string of casing with only 6 centralizers instead of the 21 recommended by Halliburton. Internal memos imply that this decision was made to cut back on the additional 10 hours of installation time that such an installation would have required.

• BP chose not to fully circulate the mud in the well from the bottom to the top -- an industry recommended "best practice" -- which would have allowed for testing of gas in the mud.

• BP chose not to use a casing hanger lockdown sleeve which would have provided extra protection against a blowout from below.

• In sum, BP chose to lower a long string of casing which resulted in diminished protection against escaping hydrocarbons when compared with the industry preferred method of hanging a liner from the lower end of the casing already in the well and installing a tieback on the top of the liner to provide and additional barrier to the release of hydrocarbons.

• Prior to the accident, internal memos indicate that BPs own engineers warned that the long string approach was unlikely to result in a successful cement job, would likely result in an open annulus to the well head and would not be able to meet with MMS regulations.

• BP chose to circumvent the cement band lock against MMS regulations

• BP chose to use a weaker salt-water solution to seal the cement around the casing pipe which was known to be a far riskier option that the stronger heavy drilling fluid, in light of the safety concerns surrounding the oil well in the weeks and months before the explosion which prompted heated arguments between a BP official and crew members employed by Transocean, the rig’s owner, on the morning of the blast, according to Douglas H. Brown, the chief mechanic for the Deepwater Horizon.

• Released internal memos indicate that the cost of using the safer liner would have added 7 - 10 million dollars to the completion cost and referred to the single string method as the "best economic option."

• BP violated U.S. laws and showed a disregard for safety regulations when it violated its federal permit by drilling at 22,000 feet - 2,000 feet deeper than its federal permit allowed.

• BP misrepresented its spill containment abilities in filing for its drilling permits. It presented a regional safety plan which claimed that the response equipment it listed in its plan would have the capability of recovering, under adverse weather conditions, 491,721 barrels of oil per day.

• In the last five years, investigators found, BP has admitted to breaking U.S. environmental and safety laws and committing outright fraud. BP paid $373 million in fines to avoid prosecution.

• BP refineries in Ohio and Texas have accounted for 97 percent of the "egregious, willful" violations handed out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The violations are determined when an employer demonstrated either an "intentional disregard for the requirements of the [law], or showed plain indifference to employee safety and health."

• In the last 3 years OSHA statistics show that in addition to its 69 willful violations, 30 serious violations and 3 unclassified violations, BP refineries also ran up 760 "egregious, willful" safety violations. During this same period, Sunoco and Conoco-Phillips each had eight, Citgo had two and Exxon had one comparable citation.

• BP itself was aware of cracks appearing in the Macondo well as far back as February, right around the time BP Chairman Tony Hayward was busy dumping his stocks in the company on the eve of the explosion that led to the oil spill, according to information uncovered by congressional investigators.

• Anadarko, a 35pc partner in the well, on Friday refused to pay its $272m (£180m) bill outright claiming that BP's actions "likely represent gross negligence or willful misconduct."

• At congressional hearings back in May, BP, Transocean and Halliburton blamed each other for the spill as executives from all three oil titans were grilled by US lawmakers.

• BPs Lamar McKay, the Chairman and president of BP America says rig owner Transocean was responsible for the failure of the giant blowout preventer valve which made it impossible to regain control of the well, but Transocean said all the operations were run by BP. In a written response to Congress, Transocean CEO Steven Newman wrote that his company's blowout preventers were tested twice in April and found both times to be functional. "We have no reason to believe that they were not operational."

• The finger was also pointed at Halliburton, the oil services company which was responsible for vital cement work around the wellhead, which should have sealed the exploratory well until full production began. Halliburton president, Tim Probert deflected these allegations by saying, "Halliburton, as a service provider to the well owner, is contractually bound to comply with the well owner's instructions on all matters relating to the performance of all work?related activities,"

• A 2007 study by the U.S. Minerals Management Service found that cementing was the single most important factor in 18 of 39 well blowouts in the Gulf of Mexico over a 14-year period -- more than equipment malfunction. Halliburton has also been accused of a poor cement job in the case of a major blowout in the Timor Sea off Australia last August.

• BP spokesman, Scott Dean indicated that, "The Halliburton cementers would have sought approval for their plans—the type of cement and how much would be used—from a BP official on board the rig before carrying out their job.

• Halliburton, which built the cement casing for the Deepwater Horizon's drill, announced its purchase of Houston-based oilfield services company Boots and Coots for $240 million on April 9, just 11 days before the Deepwater Horizon explosion. According to several reports, Boots and Coots is now under contract with BP to help with the oil spill.

• The New York Times reported in May that BP was concerned about the rig's well casing -- which Halliburton worked on -- as early as June of 2009. The Times also reported that a Halliburton employee warned BP three weeks before the explosion that BP's use of cement for the well casing was "against [Halliburton's] best practices.

• Prior to the explosion, there had been numerous spills and fires on the Deepwater Horizon rig, which had been issued citations for "acknowledged pollution source" by the U.S. Coast Guard 18 times in the past 11 years.

• BP, in 2009, spent $16 million lobbying the federal government on issues including removal of restrictions on drilling on the continental shelf, despite its history of spills and explosions, and the high risks involved in such drilling.

• BP's Board of Directors lodged a formal objection on behalf of BP in 2009 when the U.S. Minerals Management Service proposed a rule to require companies to have their safety and environmental management programs audited once every three years.

• In a suit filed against the US Minerals and Management Service (MMS), the MMS is accused of circumventing federal law by arbitrarily and irresponsibly exempting oil companies from being required to disclose in their exploratory plans a blow-out scenario, and a worst case scenario as required by law. The blow-out scenario and worst case scenario, if included, would disclose scenarios for a potential blow-out, including the maximum volume of oil that would be released, the maximum flow-rate of the oil, the maximum duration of the blow-out, and the estimated time it would take to contain such an oil spill. In regards to BP's exploration plan for the Deepwater Horizon rig, MMS approved the exploratory plan without requiring these provisions, because of the policy put forth by MMS in its' Notice to Lessees in which it exempts oil companies from compliance. Additionally, MMS was required by law to produce an analysis of potential environmental impacts in the event of a blow-out, which it did not do.

• A separate suit filed against the Interior Department, Interior Department Secretary (Ken Salazar) as well as the Director (Bob Abbey) and Regional Director (Lars Herbst) of the Interior Departments Mineral and Management Service agency, the plaintiffs allege that MMS’s approval of BP’s 2009 Gulf of Mexico Regional Oil Spill Response Plan was patently arbitrary and capricious. In the suit, the plaintiffs claim that at the time of the approval for the Macano well, the MMS knew that oil containment and recovery at sea (which was where the exploratory drilling worst case discharge scenario was projected to occur) was at best 10-15% of the spilled oil and at worst “considerably less.” Nevertheless, it approved an oil spill response plan in which BP represented that it could recover 197% of the daily discharge from an uncontrolled blowout of 250,000 barrels per day.At the time of approval, MMS knew that chemical dispersants were only 33% effective, yet it approved an oil spill response plan that assumed a 90% effectiveness rate.

• In a suit filed against by BP shareholder, Katherine Firpo, against BP, Firpo alleges that, "The Deepwater Horizon disaster could have been prevented by simple respect for safety regulations and two relatively inexpensive safety devices that BP chose not to install before drilling. She claims that the back-up safety equipment would have stopped the leak even without the blowout preventer that failed. But Firpo says BP "consciously elected not to install an acoustically activated remote-control shut-off valve, costing only $500,000, to the well." Such acoustic switches "are mandated in countries like Brazil and Norway, and are routinely employed by companies such as Royal Dutch Shell and Total SA, but have not been legally required in the U.S. due to the lobbying efforts of the BP defendants themselves as well as their counterparts at other companies," according to the complaint. "Second, the BP defendants chose not to install a deep-water valve that would have been placed about 200 feet under the sea floor. Much like blowout preventers, devices that are meant to seal leaks, this valve could have served as a cutoff of last resort in explosions."

• BP executive Tony Hayward has drawn much ire and has probably hasn't helped BPs public image much due too many of his comments and public gaffes which seem to downplay or trivialize this catastrophe and which many have called insensitive and thoughtless. For example, in May Hayward was quoted as saying that the size of the spill is "relatively tiny" in comparison to the "very big ocean." Then in his public "apology" for BPs role in what many consider to be the largest ecological disaster in US history, he was reported to have made the following (insensitive) statement, "There's no one who wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back," to which Christopher Jones, a brother of one of the 11 workers killed in the oil rig explosion, responded in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, "Mr. Hayward, I want my brother's life back."

In posting these details, I have tried to provide you with a bit of the information that is out there regarding the spill.

My own opinion is that there is plenty of blame to go around here. Unfortunately, the greed and corruption which precipitated this catastrophe are not focused solely on BP but appear rather to be an indication of a more systemic breakdown resulting from the unfortunate and unnatural preoccupation with the "almighty dollar." This, however, in no way (at least in my opinion) diminishes BP's role or culpability, and I find it patently absurd when I see comments which seem to portray their clean-up actions as somehow noble or heroic. They are not. But these are my own opinions, and are based much on my own experiences, understanding and ideas with and about the world. As everyone has there own life experiences to draw on, I certainly don't expect everybody to agree with my own opinion.

Neither should you expect for someone else to "give" you your opinion. Don't allow others to think for you. I would invite you to seek out and sift through the information that is out there, ruminate on it for awhile and then draw your own conclusions.

updated JUL 11, 2010
edited by Izanoni1
posted by Izanoni1

Yes! Of course it's their fault!

They had nothing in place to stop the flow of oil in case of an accident. What the hell is that?

Quentin said:

No one is forgetting our gov. regulatory agencies' failures in this preventable accident.

Most people in the U.S. are wise enough to know that the U.S. government is equally responsible for the disaster. Some miserable U.S. agency negligently or purposely allowed BP to go into business without the proper fail safe in case of accidents.

Ian said:

USA get off your "high horse"

That's out of line. You seem to believe that all U.S. Americans are alike. We're not! You also seem to think that we blame BP simply because it's a British company, but that's not the case here. We'd be just as angry and upset if it were a domestic oil company that caused this unforgivable disaster.

updated JUL 11, 2010
edited by 0074b507
posted by --Mariana--
Oh, shoot. I omitted the word agency . I meant to say our government regulatory agencies' - 0074b507, JUL 11, 2010
From where I have been watching this disaster Marianne I doubt your last comment. Sorry. - ian-hill, JUL 11, 2010
And BP is about 40% US owned anyway. - ian-hill, JUL 11, 2010
And I did not say anything about A L L US citizens. - ian-hill, JUL 11, 2010
When we say we are blaming BP, we mean we are blaming BP. That's it- not you, not the queen, not Cameron, not an MP, not Sir Alex Ferguson- just BP! That doesn't put me on a high horse. - 003487d6, JUL 11, 2010
Blame whoever you like - it does not explain why it happened or how it will be solved. The only people doing anything to solve the problem are BP - let them get on with it. - ian-hill, JUL 11, 2010

i didnt know bp didnt install the emegency thing because of money! good bye or should i say "Cherio" to there previous success...

updated JUL 11, 2010
posted by Kiol-Corio

well, what if some other company drilled there? it could have been any companies fault, right? or did they really forget to shut the "emergency shut off things"?

updated JUL 11, 2010
posted by Kiol-Corio

I am seriously not trying to offend any British people on here but BP was supposed to put one of them emergency shut off things on the oil and they didn't install it. So yes it is their fault.

updated JUL 11, 2010
posted by eric_collins
The British are not responsible for BP, its a private company. No offence taken by this Brit. - fontanero, JUL 10, 2010
one of Those emeregency shut off things - nizhoni1, JUL 10, 2010
I don't know the real name for it, sorry. - eric_collins, JUL 10, 2010
Yes they did put one of those "things" you refer to - one made by a US company - and it failed. - ian-hill, JUL 10, 2010

This is the last time we are allowing a discussion about any kind of political issue like this one.

There is no excuse at all for being incivil and unkind, this has happened before, Marianne called me to the thread but I was too busy, sorry, and today this happened.

Thanks everyone

I am really sorry Dandy did not think he could contact us ...I am sorry to see this happen.

This thread is closed and the topic will not be discussed on this site again.

updated JUL 11, 2010
posted by 00494d19


updated JUL 11, 2010
edited by teresa3101
posted by teresa3101

The media, and the politicians seem intent on placing blame, and on demanding action, and persuing compensation.

They seem to have overlooked the original tragedy, the explosion that killed eleven people.

updated JUL 11, 2010
posted by fontanero
Please don't forget to mention the effect on the environment and on the livelihoods of others. What a terrible sad mess. - LuisaGomezBartle, JUL 11, 2010

Primus said

When drilling for oil/gas a process is used called "Hydraulic fracturing" also known as 'Fracing'. It very often weakens the structural integrity of the surrounding area, and as a result has certain obvious 'complications' that can arise.

In United States domain, thanks to Dick Cheney almost all regulations were removed from energy companies in a law put in place which is commonly referred to as the "Halliburton Loophole".

Not that I am the biggest fan of either Dick Cheney or Halliburton but this statement is not completely accurate in regards to the BP oil spill.

The so-called "Halliburton Loophole" refers to section 332 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 which amended 42 USC 300h-3(d). The original code was put into place in order to allow the EPA to regulate the issuance of "underground injection well" permits. The wording of the law gives the EPA discretion to decide whether such a permit would cause contamination to an aquifer or some other body of fresh water which serves as the sole drinking water source for an area.

In the original wording the term "new underground injection well" was defined as any well not approved before 1974, but the "Halliburton Loophole" changed the definition to exempt from this law any "underground injection of fluid or propping agent (other than diesel fuels) pursuant to hydraulic fracturing operations related oil, gas or geothermal production activities."

I see how this 2005 amendment could certainly be interpreted as another example taken from the litany of nefarious tactics used by the energy industry to circumvent governmental safety regulations -- that is to say that the amendment certainly places the generation of energy (profits) above the interests of public health and safety; however, as the original law had nothing to do with the regulation of deep-water drilling, the subsequent "loophole" really had little to do with the current spill scenario (unless of course you are simply using it as a possible example of apparently corrupt relationship that exists between the energy industry and the federal government).

As an aside, I found it somewhat interesting that the enforcement of this regulation was limited to up to $5,000/day for each day in which such a violation occurs or up to $10,000/day if the action is considered "willful." It just makes me wonder how would someone commit an "unwillful" infractions....oops!! I'm sorry, I just tripped and fell and blasted a hole into this aquifer by accidentally pumping into it all this polymer gel and aluminum pellets I happened to be towing around.

updated JUL 11, 2010
posted by Izanoni1
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