Coast Guard releases report stating Transocean has a 'poor safety culture'

Alejandro de los Rios Apr. 26, 2011, 11:44am

The United States Coast Guard has issued a 288-page report which condemns Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, for bad practices which led to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The year long investigation by the Coast Guard resulted in findings that state Transocean suffered from "serious safety management system failures and a poor safety culture manifested in continued maintenance deficiencies, training and knowledge gaps, and emergency preparedness weaknesses."

The report also states that the Joint Investigative Team (JIT) charged with investigating the April 20, 2010 incident "identified several system deficiencies and crew decisions that may have affected the explosions or their impact."

The report could have a major impact on the multidistrict litigation (MDL) surrounding the BP oil spill in the Eastern District Court of Louisiana in New Orleans.

Recently, BP sued Transocean and its other Deepwater Horizon partners, and all the defendants are currently seeking to limit their liability stemming from the oil rig explosion and ensuing oil spill.

In a statement, Transocean contests the JIT's findings, claiming the Coast Guard had inspected the Deepwater Horizon "just seven months before the Macondo incident and certified the rig as being fully compliant."

In their report, the Coast Guard states that Transocean delegated the responsibility to ensure the Deepwater Horizon was compliant with safety regulations.

"[T]he Coast Guard (the coastal state), relying heavily on [Transocean's] oversight of its vessels, conducted limited safety examinations to assess whether the vessel was in substantial compliance with U.S. laws and regulations," the report states.

The report was released with a note specifying that this "does not represent final agency action."

"This investigation seeks to prevent an accident similar to the Deepwater Horizon by identifying the factors that led to the tragedy and making recommendations to remove or minimize those factors in the future," Capt. David Fish, chief of the Coast Guard's office of investigations and casualty analysis, is quoted as saying.

A final JIT investigative report will include the Coast Guard's findings, as well as additional reports and analysis on the explosion, to be released in July 2011.

The report points out that several flawed components on the rig including hazardous electrical equipment near flammable gas, gas dectors which weren't set to trigger an emergency shutdown and insufficient protection for crew members in the event of a blast, among others.

The liability trial in the oil spill MDL is slated to begin in February 2012 with U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier presiding.

More News