According to a report issued on Thursday from the presidential commission investigating the disaster, three of four tests Halliburton conducted on the cement prior to the rig explosion showed it to be unstable. Two of those four cement recipes were identical to those Halliburton used for BP's Macondo well. The one set of test results that did show stable cement may not have even been available at the time of the work on the Macondo well.
Did Halliburton bother to sound the alarm as a result? Not exactly, said the commission. Halliburton appears to have communicated the cement test results, but didn't really do so in a way that would have, oh, maybe drawn some serious attention to the matter. Go figure.
Unfortunately for BP, the latest revelation in this mess by no means gets BP off the hook. Maybe former CEO Tony Hayward is getting some hollow satisfaction that his seemingly childish whines about Halliburton's "bad cement job" -- which he made repeatedly following the explosion and in the company's interim report -- have been proven to have some validity. The report even says that proper cement stability should have prevented the deepwater well blowout. That said, the commission also found that there were likely several causes of the explosion and that BP's full knowledge of the cement problems still isn't entirely known.
>>BP Oil Spill Report: Plenty of Blame to Go Around
Halliburton responded early on Thursday by posting a copy of its contract with BP. One portion of the contract makes clear that the onus was on Halliburton to communicate to BP any deficiencies in its work, but the onus then turned to BP to request any work modifications, after which Halliburton would no longer be held liable.
The company followed up at almost 11 p.m. on Thursday with a more formal rebuttal. "Halliburton believes that significant differences between its internal cement tests and the Commission's test results may be due to differences in the cement materials tested," reads the Halliburton statement. "The Commission tested off-the-shelf cement and additives, whereas Halliburton tested the unique blend of cement and additives that existed on the rig at the time Halliburton's tests were conducted."
Ultimately, and not surprisingly, Halliburton made sure to point the finger back at BP. "Halliburton believes that had BP conducted a cement bond log test, or had BP and others properly interpreted a negative-pressure test, these tests would have revealed any problems with Halliburton's cement. A cement bond log test is the only means available to evaluate the integrity of the cement bond. BP, as the well owner and operator, decided not to run a cement bond log test even though the appropriate personnel and equipment were on the rig and available to run that test. BP personnel have publicly testified they intended to conduct the cement bond log test at a later date and to perform any necessary remedial work at that time."
So, the takeaway here is that Halliburton can sell you shoddy cement but will make damn sure they've covered themselves legally for doing so. Yay, ethics! The end result doesn't change much. More layers of the tar ball that is the BP oil spill are being revealed. As you'd expect, each exposed layer only gets blacker and stickier.
4. BP's Dudley Inherits Hayward's Gift for the Gaffe
BP's (BP) gaffe-prone former CEO Tony Hayward was recently shown the door, but the oil company's new head is picking up where his predecessor left off.
Bob Dudley, who succeeded Hayward on Oct. 1, went on the offensive against BP's critics in an address delivered to a British lobbying organization. Even as he acknowledged the human toll of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Dudley criticized media coverage during the event, complaining at one point that "it frequently felt as if we were the only story on the news, 24/7."
Mr. Dudley, your company has taken the honors for causing one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. You knew that when you took the job right? And now you can't fathom why BP was getting all the attention as its destroyed oil rig spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico?
Dudley went on to criticize "a rush to judgment" by observers and "some in our industry."
Dudley's insistence on playing the victim suggests that he failed to learn many of the lessons of his predecessor. Hayward was criticized for complaining that he'd like his life back as 11 oil rig workers lay dead and thousands on the Gulf feared for their livelihood. For Dudley to now complain months after the fact about a few inaccurate computer simulations regarding how far the oil could travel in the world's oceans smacks of the same victim complex that helped contribute to Hayward's ouster.