NEW ORLEANS, La. — Robert Turlak, a Transocean employee, took the witness stand on Tuesday, and testified that he was surprised when BP scrapped his team’s design to stop the gusher in the Gulf of Mexico that was a result of the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20, 2010. Transocean was the owner of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.
BP’s opponents argued that the company could have sealed the blown-out well much sooner if it had employed a capping strategy that Turlak and others had devised. It was ready for installation in early June before the fatal.
In the end, BP ultimately used a capping stack to stop the spill July 15 after several other methods failed. Turlak said he never heard why BP scrapped his team’s design.
Turlak’s team was working on a strategy that was called “BOP-on-BOP” because it lowered a second blowout preventer on top of the rig’s failed one.
Turlak called it the “obvious solution,” but BP said it wasn’t a viable option because it could have made the situation worse and hampered other strategies if it failed. BP said the capping stack that later sealed the well was specifically designed to land on the well system above the blowout preventer.
Three Phases of the BP Oil Spill Trial
1. The trial’s first phase, which ended in April, focused on the complex chain of mistakes and failures that caused the blowout.
2. The trial’s second phase opened Monday with claims that BP ignored decades of warnings about the risks of a deep-water blowout and withheld crucial information about the size of the spill.
3. The trial’s third phase will take place early next year. Judge Carl Barbier said he would not assign penalties for BP until the third phase of the trial.
Under the Clean Water Act, negligence can be punished with a maximum fine of $1,100 for each barrel of oil spilled; a gross negligence verdict carries a potential $4,300 per barrel fine.
If the court judged the spill to have been 4.09 million barrels – the government estimate less oil recovered – the price of negligence could reach $4.5 billion. Gross negligence could run to $17.6 billion.
Blog post by Louisiana maritime lawyer, Gordon, Elias & Seely.