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Transocean says BP’s actions extended Macondo leak duration by two months

04 March 2013

The owner of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, destroyed in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, says BP hampered efforts to stop the resulting gusher of oil by misleading government officials about how much oil was flowing from the damaged well on the sea floor.

The April 2010 catastrophe killed 11 workers and sent millions of gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf
The April 2010 catastrophe killed 11 workers and sent millions of gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf

Transocean, which leased Deepwater Horizon to BP, is seeking to limit its own liability for damages in the New Orleans federal court case over the Macondo leak, and has said it will itself seek to sue BP for damages.

The corporation's assertions were filed on March 1 in the civil case, which began last week to determine how much BP, Transocean and others will pay for the April 2010 catastrophe that killed 11 workers and sent millions of gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf for 87 days.

The Transocean filing said: "Beginning in late April and continuing throughout May 2010, BP repeatedly represented to source control decision-makers, Congress, the press and the public that 5,000 barrels per day was its best estimate of the flow rate." 

The filing continues: "It withheld numerous documents, analysis and estimates that would have allowed those outside BP to realize that BP's flow rate claims were misleading and fraudulent."

Transocean says federal officials attempted a method of stopping the flow that was destined to fail because oil was spewing at a greater rate than BP was publicly acknowledging. That method, known as "top kill," involved plugging the well by injecting drilling mud and solid material.

The attempt failed. Transocean, citing various documents and evidence including BP's recent guilty plea to criminal charges, said BP was well aware of estimates that much more oil was flowing, up to 100,000 barrels per day. Ultimately, a device known as a capping stack stopped the flow.

Transocean said that, but for BP's actions, the oil flow could have been stopped sometime in May. 

The trial resumed on March 4 and is expected to last for months.


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