BP ‘informed of leak’ by worker weeks before oil spill
BP on Monday faced new allegations that it had ignored safety warnings before the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded – sending its shares down another 2pc in London.
By Rowena Mason
21 Jun 2010
The claim was made on the BBC’s Panorama programme by an oil worker who survived the accident. Tyrone Benton said that weeks before the blast he informed BP and Transocean, the rig’s owner, about a leak on the rig’s safety device – called a blow-out preventer – which he says was switched off rather than repaired.
“We saw a leak on the pod [and] we informed the company,” Mr Benton told the programme. “They have a control room where they could turn off that pod and turn on the other one, so that they don’t have to stop production.”
He was unsure whether the leaking device had been turned back on again before the explosion that triggered the giant leak.
BP said on Monay that it has now spent $2bn (£1.35bn) – almost $33m per day – on clean-up and compensation payments since the Deepwater Horizon sank on April 20, killing 11 men. This includes $135m for compensation claims to workers losing salaries because of the oil spill.
In other developments:
• The US Chemical Safety Board confirmed on Monday that it will open a formal investigation into the “root causes” that led to the BP oil spill disaster.
• The Brazilian regulator said it was in “no hurry” to approve BP’s $7bn purchase of Devon Energy’s assets off its coast, as it makes its own inquiries into the accident.
• New internal BP documents suggest that in the worst case scenario 100,000 barrels per day could spill into the sea. The official estimate is 60,000, but BP said its higher figure was “hypothetical”.
• A judge pledged to rule by Wednesday whether to lift the US government’s ban on new deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. It followed a court challenge by a group of oil companies, led by Hornbeck Offshore Services. The company called the moratorium “arbitrary, capricious [and] an abuse of discretion” that is costing the industry billions of dollars.
• Kenneth Feinberg, the official in charge of administering a $20bn compensation fund for workers, said he would “err on the side of generosity” to claimants and questioned whether the pot contained enough money.
• Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive, cancelled an appearance at a conference to talk about the global responsibility of international oil companies last night to concentrate on the accident. It followed criticism of the fact that he spent the weekend watching a yacht race in Britain, as workers continue to clear up the spill now covering an area the size of Luxembourg.