Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig Explosion Cause & Investigation

*** UPDATE 9-14-2011 ***

“A US federal report has blamed the worst oil spill in US history on “key mis-steps”, poor leadership and a poor cement job by BP and its contractors.”

– BBC News : BP oil spill: US report shares Deepwater Horizon blame

*** UPDATE 7-05-2011 ***

“From the day its Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, Transocean has denied wrongdoing, deflected blame, and paid dividends, not cleanup costs. So far, its hardball strategy is working…”

– Business Week : Transocean: No Apologies Over Gulf Oil Spill

*** UPDATE 12-30-2010 ***

The owner of the rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico is refusing to honor subpoenas from a federal board that has challenged the company’s involvement in monitoring the testing of a key piece of equipment that failed to stop the oil spill disaster.

– The Raw Story : Transocean refuses to co-operate with oil spill probe

*** UPDATE 12-03-2010 ***

“BP’s lawyers are arguing that the government overstated the spill by 20 to 50 percent, staffers working for the presidential oil spill commission said Friday.”

– Previously reported on Yahoo News.

*** UPDATE 10-28-2010 ***

“Halliburton and BP knew weeks before the fatal explosion of the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico that the cement mixture they planned to use to seal the bottom of the well was unstable but still went ahead with the job, the presidential commission investigating the accident said on Thursday.

In the first official finding of responsibility for the blowout, which killed 11 workers and led to the largest offshore oil spill in American history, the commission staff determined that Halliburton had conducted three laboratory tests that indicated that the cement mixture did not meet industry standards.

The result of at least one of those tests was given on March 8 to BP, which failed to act upon it, the panel’s lead investigator, Fred H. Bartlit Jr., said in a letter delivered to the commissioners on Thursday.”

– The New York Times : Firms Knew of Cement Flaws Before Spill, Panel Says

*** UPDATE 10-28-2010 ***

“The government is conducting a criminal investigation into the explosion, the deaths of 11 rig workers and the resulting spill, in which 4.9 million barrels of oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico. ”

– Los Angeles Times : Court orders security perimeter around Deepwater Horizon wreckage

*** UPDATE 09-16-2010 ***

“What led Obama administration officials to wildly understate the size of the BP oil spill until it was all over? Was it just a series of honest mistakes? Or was science being manipulated for political purposes?”

– Huffinton Post : Whistleblower Group Sues To Find Out Why Administration Lowballed BP Oil Spill Estimates

*** UPDATE 09-09-2010 ***

“The report’s importance may be not as an investigative document but as a legal one….”What you see here is a road map for their approach to the litigation,” said Steve Gordon, a Tampa native who’s now a maritime attorney in Houston representing seven survivors and the family of one worker killed in the rig explosion. ”

– Previously reported on

*** UPDATE 09-08-2010 ***

“Steve Gordon, a maritime lawyer in Texas who represents some of the oil-worker survivors of the accident, and a family of one of the 11 workers who died, took aim at the lack of sworn testimony from the various people interviewed by BP investigators.
Mr. Gordon said: ‘This is an important consideration because people interviewed, not under sworn-testimony conditions, can make comments that are untruthful and there is no legal recourse to pursue perjury in such cases.’”

– Wall Street Journal : The BP Report Is Out, But What About Its Methodology?

*** UPDATE 09-07-2010 ***

“BP will have to walk a fine line to avoid shouldering blame as a corporation while finding fault with how some of its employees dealt with issues such as well design and well testing.”

– The Chron : BP to release its report today – Company may acknowledge a degree of responsibility for April spill

*** UPDATE 08-27-2010 ***

– C-Span : Deepwater Horizon Joint Investigation, Brett Cocales Testimony

“Brett Cocales testified at the U.S. Coast Guard and Bureau of Energy Management joint investigation of the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. This session of hearings focused on well design and construction, and vessel safety management. This hearing was the fifth day of the fourth session of hearings of the Deepwater Horizon joint investigation.”

*** UPDATE 08-23-2010 ***

“At the start of the fourth round of hearings in a federal investigation of the Deepwater Horizon Incident of Monday, investigators zeroed in on the command structure aboard the doomed rig.”

– The Wallstreet Journal : Oil Spill Probe Focuses On Command Structure at Doomed Rig

*** UPDATE 07-23-2010 ***

“Williams said he discovered that the physical alarm system had been disabled a full year before the disaster….Williams’ testimony will raise questions about whether lives could have been saved had the alarms been properly set and the disaster mitigated.”

– The Guardian : Deepwater Horizon alarms were switched off ‘to help workers sleep’

“A BP manager from Houston testified for nearly nine hours Thursday that he doesn’t know what caused the April 20 explosion that killed 11 rig workers in the Gulf of Mexico. And he said an offshore subordinate could not explain the details of a drill-pipe pressure test that preceded the disaster.”

– Previously reported on 2theadvocate.

“‘Cost savings is never in the picture,’ Guide told the panel. ‘When it comes to safety, never.”’

– Previously reported on Businessweek.

“His[Guide’s] testimony seemed to lend credence to the idea of a rush job, though he insisted safety was never sacrificed in the interest of lowering costs. The rig was 43 days behind schedule and more than $20 million over budget, according to investigators. ”

– Previously reported on

*** UPDATE 07-21-2010 ***

“As Tuesday’s hearing drew to a close, lawyers for all four witnesses who had been scheduled to testify Wednesday notified the board that those witnesses were declining to appear.”

WashingtonPost : Deepwater Horizon disaster hearing canceled after previous day’s testimony provides little insight

*** UPDATE 06-20-2010 ***

“It is stunning to discover that a major multi-national corporation could be so daring as to lie to shareholders, Congress and taxpayers. The next question that Congress may want to look into is why the Obama administration swallowed BP’s lies hook line and collapsing GoM floor bed, without using an independent 3rd party verification, and what the liability to the firm would be if the official flow rate is revised to be twice higher than the current worse case scenario.”

– Zero Hedge : Internal BP Document Confirms Matt Simmons’ Worst Case Prediction Of Spill Rate Of 100,000+ Barrels Per Day

*** UPDATE 06-14-2010 ***

Letter from Congress to Tony Hayward, the Chief Executive of BP. Thursday, June 17th, Hayward Testifies.

Read the Letter Here

*** UPDATE 06-8-2010 ***

The Deepwater Horizon Internal Investigation Report

Investigation Update – Interim Report

***UPDATE 06/05/2010***

MSNBC reports: Who was in charge of rig? It’s unclear

***UPDATE 05/07/2010***

News clips regarding British Petroleum’s safety record that has cost lives in the petroleum industry.

Read Clips Here

**UPDATE 05/05/10***

In 2004, the Mining & Minerals Management Service conducted a series of tests on the viability of Bow-Out Preventers [BOP] at the highest water depths that they are rated to be able to function. The studies ultimately demonstrated that only 3 out of 14 actually were successful in severing the pipe and cutting off the flow. The document is extremely long but the pertinent information is found on Page 10 under 3.2. It states:

3.2 Understanding the Shear Function

The well control function of last resort is to shear pipe and secure the well with the sealing shear ram. As a result, failure to shear when executing this final option would be expected to result in a major safety and/or environmental event. Improved strength in drill pipe, combined with larger and heavier sizes resulting from deeper drilling, adversely affects the ability of a given ram BOP to successfully shear and seal the pipe in use. WEST is currently aware of several failures to shear when conducting shear tests using the drill pipe that was to be used in the well.

As stated in a mini shear study recently done for the MMS, only three recent new-build rigs out of fourteen were found able to shear pipe at their maximum rated water depths. Only half of the operators accepting a new-build rig chose to require a shear ram test during commissioning or acceptance. This grim snapshot illustrates the lack of preparedness in the industry to shear and seal a well with the last line of defense against a blowout.

Operators and drilling contractors do not always perform shear tests when accepting new or rebuilt BOP stacks. The importance of shear tests prior to accepting a rig is better understood by some that have experienced inadequate control system pressure when attempting to shear the drill pipe to be used in their project. Shearing problems found in testing have resulted in delays as the necessary equipment modifications are made before initiation of drilling.

Manufacturers cannot directly compensate for parameters such as mud weight and internal well-bore pressure in the shearing operation; but they do provide the additional compensating pressures required. There has also been little sharing of shear data that would allow for better understanding of shear requirements. Unfortunately, not all operators and drilling contractors are aware of the limitations of the equipment they are using. This study examines existing shear data, and inconsistencies in an attempt to better understand the likelihood that the rams will function as expected when activated.

It is clear that the BOP utilized in the Deepwater Horizon did not function despite an alleged triple redundancy. This study’s results are known, or clearly should be known, by BP and Transocean. Unfortunately, when the study says, a “…major safety and/or environmental event….” would occur was apparently intentionally brushed aside by both BP and Transocean in the interests of corporate profits. Now, eleven people have been killed, countless others have been injured and the environment and ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico region has been forever damaged by this reckless behavior.

See full document here

**UPDATE 05-02-10**

Transamerica and BP are now Into “Spin Control”

After 8 days of “silence”, all of a sudden, an unnamed “caller” calling himself James, who says that he was actually on the Deepwater Horizon [DWH], calls into a radio show in Dallas, Texas and wants to “clear the air”. This, I am sure will be proven to be a planned effort on the part of the lawyers at Transocean and BP. Here is why:

(1) The Jones Act, a law that allows injured victims in a maritime incident to receive economic damages, covers the Kleppinger Family’s claim. A Jones Act violation is easily going to be provable in this disaster and, therefore, the “liability” of Transocean, as to our client, is going to be easily made. But the Kleppinger case, or any other DWH injured workers’ claim, does not stop with finding “liability” as that is just half of the legal equation……The other half is “damages”. If you listen to the caller, he explains what happens as sort of a “surprise” and one attributable to “Mother Nature” and, therefore trying to negate a finding of gross negligence;

(2) However, gross negligence is a possibility in this case against Transocean and/or BP. But, neither Transocean nor BP is “admitting” the Jones Act allows punitive damages in a Jones Act Wrongful Death Claim.

  1. This is very important and I do not want to confuse anyone so I will re-state this another way. I believe that Transocean and BP are going to come into our court case and say “We Stipulate to Liability”, in other words they will “confess” liability as to negligence. Then they will argue that “gross negligence” is not available as a matter of law! By arguing this, they will then take the position that they will not have to produce all the (1) statements and (2) documents related to their investigation, or (3) the videos of the rig floor that get sent to shore in “real time”; (4) or all the memorandum related to discussions of the very thing occurring offshore that actually did happen on the Deepwater Horizon; because, once all these things are produced, then gross negligence will be “unveiled” and a jury could then award punitive damages.
  2. Another thing is, the questioner asks “did they [the 11] die instantly?” He just ask this out of the blue. Well, once again, this is a very important aspect of the recovery of the Kleppinger family and it is called “Conscious Pain & Recovery of Karl Kleppinger, Jr. just prior to his death”;
  3. “You can’t win against Mother Nature” the Caller says; then he says, “This was a ….. literally could have been ….a once in a lifetime freak accident or it could be negligence”. Notice no mention of gross negligence. He attempts to portray this event as completely unexpected and not one as a result of poor decisions at the corporate level.

(3) I will guarantee that this caller was (1) coached to give this “interview” and (2) the “talk show host” knew this was going to happen.

So, when you listen to this, listen to it with an “ear” with the analysis that Transocean and BP are trying to explain how it was just “negligent” but not “grossly negligent”.


Find more audio and video like this on Drilling Ahead

**UPDATE 04-30-10**

A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) has been executed against Transocean. Read TRO.

**UPDATE 04-27-10**

On Tuesday, Apr 27, 2010, the U.S. Government’s Department of Interior and Department of Homeland Security started a Joint Investigation into the cause of the Transocean rig explosion. Their plan is to coordinate the already ongoing investigation of the United States Coast Guard Minerals Management Service. Department of Energy Secretary Ken Salazar and Department of Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano will now have the power to issue subpoenas and hold hearings.

Deepwater Horizon Explosion Cause & Investigation

As you know, Gordon, Elias & Seely, L.L.P., filed the Kleppinger family’s lawsuit in the 234th Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas. Another claimant has intervened in that matter and the Court entered a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in the Transocean Deepwater Horizon explosion that took place on April 20, 2010. A TRO is filed for many reasons – one of which would be to preserve evidence or not to cause spoliation of evidence.

Since an ongoing investigation of great magnitude is already being conducted by The Coast Guard, The Minerals Management Service, The Department of the Interior and the Department of Homeland Security on possible causes of the explosion, the law firm of Gordon, Elias & Seely, L.L.P., is satisfied that the evidence will be safely maintained.

Workers Suffered Great Fear and Mental Anguish

So far, based upon the investigation of Gordon, Elias & Seely, L.L.P., they have determined that there were a series of explosions prior to the main explosion. This means that the people that may have died in the main explosion suffered great, great fear and mental anguish. This further means that the families of these great workers that gave their lives to Transocean have a very large monetary Jones Act claim for what is called conscious pain and suffering. These are very important facts that apparently have been attempted to be suppressed by Transocean and British Petroleum (BP) that will be revealed in the Coast Guard investigation.

Production casing was being run and cemented at the time of the accident. Once the cementing was done, it was due to be tested for integrity and a cement plug set to abandon the well for later completion as a subsea producer. According to Transocean executive Adrian Rose “undoubtedly abnormal pressure” had accumulated inside the marine riser and as it came up it “expanded rapidly and ignited”, an event known as a blowout.

Remembering the Workers in a Moment of Silence

At 11 am, April, 26,2010, the rigs in the Gulf will cease work, heads will bow, and the whistles will blow in remembrance of those who worked on the rig.