British oil giant BP and its contractors failed to learn from earlier errors and showed an ” insufficient consideration of risk” in the massive oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, a group of U.S. scientists have concluded.
In a report released late Tuesday night, a panel of experts convened by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering said that ” numerous technical and operational breakdowns” in the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion “suggest the lack of a suitable approach for managing the inherent risks, uncertainties, and dangers associated with deepwater drilling operations and a failure to learn from previous ‘near misses.'”
“The events also suggest insufficient checks and balances for critical decisions impacting the schedule for ‘abandoning’ the exploratory well — or sealing it in transition to production — and for considering well safety,” according to the report, which was commissioned by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.
“Important decisions made to proceed toward well abandonment despite several indications of potential hazard suggest an insufficient consideration of risks,” said Donald Winter, professor of engineering practice at the University of Michigan, and chair of the study committee.
“It’s also important to note that these flawed decisions were not identified or corrected by BP and its service contractors, or by the oversight process employed by the U.S. Minerals Management Service and other regulatory agencies,” he said.