WASHINGTON — Oil company BP had identified problems with work by its cement company long before the massive Gulf oil well blowout, which investigations have blamed on cement failing at the bottom of the hole, a presidential panel investigating the oil spill said Thursday.
But BP apparently didn't do much, if anything, about it.
A 2007 audit by BP of Halliburton Co.'s work said the cement contractor lacked the experience to evaluate data and issued incomplete testing reports that were difficult to understand, according to a report released Thursday from the commission's chief counsel.
BP also had concerns about Jesse Gagliano, a Halliburton engineer working on the Macondo well that blew out last April, who has since told federal investigators that he had warned BP that its well design could have compromised the cement job. On the day of the disaster, BP employees were discussing how to handle his performance, which internally they said wasn't "cutting it."
Halliburton has acknowledged it did not test the stability of the final cement mix used, but it blames BP's well design for the disaster. The company, according to the report released Thursday, has refused to cooperate with the presidential panel since the panel exposed in October that its own independent tests showed the cement mixture would fail. Cement serves as a critical barrier in oil wells, preventing oil and gas from entering the well unexpectedly.
The report issued Thursday likely represents the final word from the oil spill commission, which was appointed by President Barack Obama to investigate the disaster in May.
While it provides a new levels of detail, the document does nothing to change what the panel said in January was the cause of the accident: a series of time and money-saving decisions by BP, Halliburton and rig owner Transocean Ltd. that created an unacceptable amount of risk.
BP and Halliburton did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Presidential Oil Spill Commission: www.oilspillcommission.gov