NEW ORLEANS – After the second day of trial involving the 2010 Gulf oil spill, the overall accusation from those taking a hard line against British Petroleum (BP) - including attorneys general from five coastal states, a plaintiffs' steering committee and the Department of Justice - is that greed drove BP to cut corners on safety matters, which led to the incident.
The plaintiffs in the case are pushing for a ruling of gross negligence that could open the oil giant up to more than $17 billion in penalties.
On Monday, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said the spill was “both predictable and avoidable" and that “BP’s culture of corporate callousness towards the Gulf caused the spill.”
Strange went on to say that BP should have known about the great risk of a potential blowout occurring and that they were “blinded by their bottom line.”
“Money mattered more to BP than the Gulf. A lot more,” Strange said. “Your honor, the evidence will be clear and unmistakable: Greed devastated the Gulf.”
According to continually updated blog postings by al.com, the website for the Alabama Media Group and the Birmingham News, Strange in addition to Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, Jim Roy of the plaintiff’s steering committee, Transocean lawyer Brad Brian and Halliburton lawyer Don Godwin all testified against BP.
Part of BP’s strategy has been to pinpoint a faulty cement job by rig operator Transocean and subcontractor Halliburton as the reason for the rig’s failure and the subsequent oil spill.
According to al.com, BP attorney Mike Brock ended day one of the trial by defending the safety system as overseen by BP on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and claiming the blame for explosion of the rig and the oil spill should be shared by all companies involved, including Transocean and Halliburton.
The first half of day two of the trial focused on testimony from Robert Bea, a University of California-Berkeley engineer, who al.com reported as saying, the company’s focus on profits led to the company ignoring his warnings to increase safety standards when he served as a paid consultant to them in 2005.
In addition to Bea’s testimony, the Washington Post reported, BP executive Lamar McKay finished out the day by denying that the spill was entirely the fault of BP.
The trial is taking place without a jury and has been overseen by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier who will ultimately assess any penalty.
The current proceedings are only one phase of the trial, focusing on the causes of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform explosion that began the 2010 Gulf oil spill that eventually leaked an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil in the largest oil spill ever recorded.
Phase two of the trial is set for September and will focus on the government’s estimate of the amount of oil that leaked into the Gulf, which BP claims is faulty and will calculate into the ultimate fine assessed in the case.