The House Energy and Commerce Committee, in an effort to press BP on its cost-cutting and time-saving decisions that led to the Gulf disaster, has released a series of documents that seem to show BP cutting corners on what it knew was a "nightmare well." We've put many of them in our document viewer--linked below--so you can check them out.
One e-mail, for instance, noted that BP's chosen well design "saves lots of time ... at least 3 days."
According to the House committee's letter to BP CEO Tony Hayward, BP chose this more risky option despite the fact that in April a review of the plan recommended against it. Another option being considered "would have cost $7 to $10 million more and taken longer," according to the committee.
As we've noted, Halliburton, the cementing contractor, warned BP that its well could have a gas flow problem if it didn't it install more centering devices to make sure the pipe was centered before the cement job was performed. BP didn't fully adopt that recommendation, installing only six of the 21 recommended devices. "A straight piece of pipe even in tension will not seek the perfect center of the hole unless it has something to centralize it," one BP employee wrote. "But, who cares, it's done, end of story, will probably be fine and we'll get a good cement job."
Another e-mail from a BP engineer noted that "this has been a nightmare well which has everyone all over the place."
The House committee's website has all of the released documents. Many of them appear highly technical, but according to the committee, they amount to evidence that BP "repeatedly chose risky procedures in order to reduce costs and save time," and that the company "made minimal efforts to contain the added risk." A spokesman for BP told The Associated Press, "It would be inappropriate for us to comment ahead of the hearing." That congressional hearing, at which Hayward will testify, is scheduled for Thursday. Another hearing with top oil industry execs is going on right now. (Here's the video live on C-Span.)
For explanations of some of BP's decisions in plain English, check out some of our prior posts, or read The Wall Street Journal's excellent investigation.