Commentary: BP Deepwater Horizon's blowout could have been prevented

The Miami HeraldJanuary 7, 2011 

Ever since the April 20 Gulf of Mexico Macondo oil well blowout and Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, which killed 11 men, the three mega corporations involved have stood in a triangle pointing fingers at each other.

Now, the presidential commission investigating the disaster, which led to the largest oil spill in the nation's history, says they're right, in a way: All three are to blame -- as are government regulators.

More ominously, the panel, co-chaired by Florida's former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham and former EPA administrator William K. Reilly, warns that another such spill could happen today. The Obama administration must tighten oversight of offshore drilling to make sure it doesn't.

Only one chapter of the commission's full report, due out next week, has been released, but it's an important one because it deals with the blowout's causes. British Petroleum, major owner of the well, Halliburton, which was pumping cement into the well when it blew, and Transocean, the drilling contractor, all took shortcuts to save time and money when less risky options were possible, the commission says.

Those shortcuts, plus a failure of the three companies and their subcontractors to communicate with each other better, caused the well eruption, rig explosion and subsequent spill of nearly five million barrels of oil into the Gulf.

``Better management by BP, Halliburton and Transocean would almost certainly have prevented the blowout by improving the ability of individuals involved to identify the risks they faced, and to properly evaluate, communicate and address them. A blowout in deep water was not a statistical inevitability,'' says the report.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.miamiherald.com.

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