A Wall Street Journal report provides a possible scapegoat for BP in last year’s oil spill. Investigators say the blame for the disaster does not lie with BP but instead with a design flaw in the rig’s blowout preventer.
Essentially, the report says that the two giant shears that are supposed to deploy to overlap when a blowout occurs couldn’t shut because a bent drill pipe got in between the shears. The gap between the shears was 1.4 inches wide. Through that gap passed 4.9 billion gallons of oil that decimated the Gulf Coast. The report is extensive and is worth a look.
So now what? Is this the end of the finger-pointing? Is BP off the hook? It’s hard to say.
It’s been a long year. After the oil spill, we witnessed hearings and blundered responses from all sides. As more details surfaced about BP’s loose regulatory atmosphere, we also learned about the atmosphere of blunders at the Minerals Management Service, which at the time was tasked with looking after BP. The political response included the usual finger-pointing. One side offered apologies for holding the hearings, while the other side made a failed last attempt to promote cap-and-trade. All the while, there were restaurants, hotels and piers along the Gulf Coast that remained empty — not to mention drill rig workers who had to scramble while their industry remained in limbo.
The first question is: Do you believe that the spill wasn’t BP’s fault?
Then the next question should be: Does it matter?
The third question is the hardest: What now?