Is BP About to Pay for Its Mistakes?
The ongoing trial regarding liability for the Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 workers and resulted in a catastrophic oil spill does not appear to be going well for BP (NYSE:BP).
On Wednesday, Nathaniel Chaisson, a Haliburton employee in charge of cementing the offshore well for BP, testified that “he reminded BP’s well-site leader and drilling engineer that his company recommended 21 stabilizers to center the drill pipe in the well,” reports Bloomberg. BP eventually decided to only use 6 stabilizers.
Haliburton, which could face punitive damages of its own from the disaster, was the company responsible for the cement job which preceded the blowout and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.
However, under cross-examination from BP’s lawyer, Chaisson also stated that “this was not a safety issue,” according to Bloomberg.
Per Bloomberg, Chaisson stated in his testimony that, “they simply informed me that that decision has been made not to run the 15 additional centralizers.” Chaisson testified that he had warned BP employees four days before the explosion that they faced an increased risk of a well blowout called “channeling” occurring if the additional stabilizers were not used.
Five days before the explosion, a Haliburton engineer named Jesse Gagliano also warned BP that the well had a “severe risk” of natural gas leaks without the full array of stabilizers, reports Bloomberg.
The trial, which began on February 25, will determine whether or not BP’s actions leading up to the disaster meets the legal requirement for gross negligence. A finding of gross negligence could make BP liable for up to $17.6 billion in Clean Water Act fines, as well as further punitive damages from private claimants who haven’t already settled with BP.
Transocean (NYSE:RIG), the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, and Haliburton, the Houston-based company responsible for cementing the well, could also face punitive damages.
The Deepwater Horizon blowout and explosion resulted in the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, dumping over 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
BP closed up 0.21 percent at $42.35 on Thursday and Transocean closed up 0.04 percent at $51.96.