WASHINGTON Ã¢â‚¬â€ BP may have taken dangerous “shortcuts” in the “days and hours” before a deadly blast that led to the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill, key lawmakers investigating the catastrophe charged Monday.
“BP appears to have made multiple decisions for economic reasons that increased the danger of a catastrophic well failure,” Representatives Henry Waxman and Bart Stupak said in a letter to BP chief executive Tony Hayward.
“If this is what happened, BP’s carelessness and complacency have inflicted a heavy toll on the Gulf, its inhabitants, and the workers on the rig,” they wrote.
Waxman and Stupak, top Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, warned Hayward to be prepared to face tough questions on BP’s actions when he appears before the panel on Thursday, his first congressional appearance.
“The committee’s investigation is raising serious questions about the decisions made by BP in the days and hours before the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon,” they wrote in their 14-page letter.
The panel has been looking into actions by BP and other firms tied to the April 20 explosion that sank the offshore drilling platform, killing 11 workers and unleashing the worst environmental disaster in US history.
“At the time of the blowout, the Macondo well was significantly behind schedule. This appears to have created pressure to take shortcuts to speed finishing the well,” Waxman and Stupak wrote Hayward.
The lawmakers — who highlighted an April 14 message from a BP drilling engineer in which he described the operation as “a nightmare well” — said such decisions “increased the danger of a catastrophic well failure.”
They cited “five crucial decisions” with regard to well design, cement work on the well, safety tests, and other issues, and charged that “the common feature of these five decisions is that they posed a trade-off between cost and well safety.”
And “in several instances, these decisions appear to violate industry guidelines and were made despite warnings from BP’s own personnel and its contractors,” the lawmakers said.