Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Waxman Committee Cleans Oil Companies' Clocks

Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources was largely treated to a circle jerk of reciprocal finger-pointing. BP Oil Corp. blamed Transocean, Transocean blamed Halliburton, Halliburton blamed BP.

Today, the House Commerce Committee of Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) is showing how a committee hearing should be conducted. The razor-sharp Firedog Lake blogger Marcy Wheeler has the details and the links to committee documents.

As this is written, the committee is still in session and all the evidence has not yet been heard. But right now it's looking very much as if the three oil company executives were all correct: every one of their companies screwed up.
  • Halliburton, indeed, may have made a bad cement pour.
  • Transocean's "blow out preventer" had been modified in "unexpected ways," [and according to one witness "under the direction of" and "at the expense of" BP]; it wasn't "powerful enough to to cut through joints in the drill pipe;" and it "failed" at the crucial task of receiving and acting on the signal to trigger the device.
  • British Petroleum performed "negative pressure" tests on the BOP at least twice the day of the explosion; the BOP failed at least some of those tests; but nevertheless "company officials determined" to end the testing and proceed with well operations.
Today, you can watch the hearings on C-Span 3.

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