Transocean challenges Coast Guard Report on Gulf Oil Spill

by Colonel on June 9, 2011

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Transocean called the report “flawed” and said it should be corrected.

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Transocean “urged the Coast Guard to revise a recent draft investigation report that said the company was partly to blame for last year’s Gulf of Mexico disaster.

On the final day of a comment period on the draft report, the Swiss-based driller called for more than 230 changes and even suggested the joint Coast Guard-Interior Department board investigating the accident ignored evidence in pursuit of an agenda.

“The investigative staff has failed to carry out the mission they were assigned and, instead, have produced an advocacy document that disregards inconvenient facts in order to justify a pre-determined outcome,” Transocean said in a 216-page brief filed Wednesday with the Department of Homeland Security and Interior Department.

Specifically, Transocean sought to refute four key findings of the Coast Guard report, which was released April 22, two days after the one-year anniversary of BP’s Macondo well blowout, which killed 11 workers and triggered the nation’s worst oil spill.

First, it denied that poorly maintained equipment on the rig was responsible for igniting gas that escaped from the well. Rather, it was BP’s “risky, cost-saving decisions” that caused the blowout and made ignition “inevitable from any one of hundreds of properly functioning, well-maintained electrical devices,” the brief said.

Transocean also defended its upkeep of the huge blowout preventer, which failed to seal the well at the sea floor, allowing an estimated 5 million barrels of crude to gush into the Gulf. Transocean said crews performed routine maintenance of the critical well-control equipment according to established industry standards, government regulations and the manufacturer’s guidelines.

The brief also challenged the report’s finding that engines on the rig failed to shut down when gas was detected. The engines were not designed to shut down automatically when gas entered the engine room, and Transocean said it knows of no such systems on rigs comparable to the Deepwater Horizon.

And the company denied that the rig’s general alarm should have sounded automatically when gas reached the facility’s surface. Transocean said the general alarm was on the “manual” setting, a common practice that prevents repeated false alarms upon activation of gas or smoke detectors. But it was not “inhibited,” as the report suggests. When dangerous amounts of gas were detected, crews correctly activated the general alarm, which helped 115 workers survive the accident, the company said.

Elsewhere in the brief, Transocean directly criticized the joint Coast Guard-Interior Department investigation board for ignoring key evidence discovered in seven rounds of public hearings, accusing it of relying on speculation rather than fact in assembling its report. “

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