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Documents Detail BP Safety Lapses in North Sea

As the U.S. waits on BP to work through complications and finish plugging its ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico, BP is under scrutiny in the U.K. for failure to adequately prepare for spill scenarios in the North Sea.

Offshore inspection records show BP has failed to comply with emergency regulations on oil spills, and has neither conducted enough oil spill exercises or adequately trained offshore oil workers on how to respond to oil spills, according to the Financial Times of London ($). From the Times:

BP has 33 platforms in the region, of which 12 have been inspected by [the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the UK body monitoring companies’ compliance with their emergency plans] during the five years until the end of 2009.

But records of 11 of the 23 inspections carried out by the Decc during the period contain criticism of BP’s training processes. Of those, eight inspection records on seven different facilities suggested the necessary training had not taken place. BP said it had rectified the issues and now complied fully with the regulation on oil spill exercises.

The company’s outgoing CEO, Tony Hayward, faced a British parliamentary committee on Wednesday, which questioned him on the Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP’s safety record, and its preparedness for a spill in the North Sea.

“We have a very strong track record in the North Sea. It is better than the industry average,” Hayward told the committee, in comments reported by the Associated Press. He also said the company was working on building capacity to respond to spills in the North Sea.

As for the Gulf disaster, Hayward said the oil industry at large had made a “very bad assumption” about the likelihood of a deep-sea blowout, and faulted industry-wide complacency as a factor in the Gulf spill.

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