BP sues Cameron, Transocean, Halliburton over Deepwater Horizon disaster *updated*


BP has filed lawsuits against the maker of the failed blowout preventer on the Macondo well, the operator of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, and the well’s cement contractor, saying they were largely to blame for the accident one year ago that killed 11 and spilled 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

In the lawsuits filed Wednesday in federal court in New Orleans, BP alleges Cameron’s 50-foot-tall, 300-ton blow out preventer had an inferior design and was poorly maintained.

Cameron “did not meet the standards of a reasonable manufacturer and service provider,” BP said Wednesday in the filing in a New Orleans federal court.  BP is seeking damages from Cameron for providing a product it says was defective, as well for claims against BP under the Oil Pollution Act.

In the case of Transocean BP says the company failed “to properly operate the Deepwater Horizon,” including failing to properly inspect equipment, asses the risk of equipment failure and “Negligently hiring, retaining and/or training personnel.”

**Updated: BP filed suit against cement contractor Halliburton late Wednesday night, alleging fraud, negligence and concealing material facts in connection with its work on the rig.

“BP’s claims are consistent with the conclusions reached by the Presidential Commission, which found that the cement slurry designed, mixed and pumped by Halliburton failed, that Halliburton did not provide BP with the results of failed cement tests, and that mudloggers who worked for the company’s Sperry Drilling unit missed critical signals that hydrocarbons were flowing into the wellbore,” BP said in a statement. “The record is clear that Halliburton’s misconduct contributed to the accident and spill, and BP has filed this action to preserve its legal rights.”

The statement noted how Halliburton has given limited cooperation to different investigative panels.

“BP continues to review its ongoing business relationship with Halliburton,” the company said. **

Many parties involved in the case have filed suit against one another in the last few days in order to reserve their rights to make certain claims under several statutory deadlines that expired Wednesday — the one-year anniversary of the disaster.

Given the deadlines, a spokeswoman for Cameron said the filing “is not surprising.”

“Additionally, in order to protect ourselves, we, too, have filed crossclaims and counterclaims, including our indemnity claims, against other parties to the litigation,” she said in an e-mailed statement.

The blowout preventer had two control pods with redundant systems. A solenoid intended to activate a “deadman” switch in one of the pods if the blowout preventer lost contact with the rig failed when it was tested after the device was brought back to the surface. A battery in the second pod was found to be too weak to activate the deadman function.

A forensic examination of the BOP once it was brought to the surface also concluded the shearing rams in the device failed to cut all the way through a section of drill pipe, leaving a small area for oil and gas to continue to flow.

Tom Fowler

36 Responses

  1. Trail Trash says:

    @ richeyrich: Assignment of “blame” will come out of the trials of the lawsuits filed by the families and any possible federal criminal charges. The lawsuits between the companies are over liability. For example, BP is suing Transocean over the BOP. Whether BP was responsible for creating the situation where the BOP was needed might not even be relevant toward the final judgement. The legal arugment on the part of BP will be, “…did you provide a funtioning BOP as specified in the work contract? Yes or no?” etc, etc.

  2. richeyrich says:

    I think they should share in the blame. No reason BP should have to pay for it all.

  3. Trail Trash says:

    These are not frivolous lawsuits. Considering the amount of liability involved, the legal staffs of each company are going to challenge every contract, challenge every letter of indemnity and counter sue every lawsuit filed on them. Basically, they are going to throw everything against the wall and see what sticks.

  4. Spendmoney says:

    Calling GOP Texas Rep. Joe Barton. We have another shake down in progress. Calling GOP Texas Rep. Joe Barton….emergency.

  5. Adler says:

    Hey, knownothingone. Sorry to burst your bubble of hatred, but most REPs know that this suit is not just unfounded under the contracts in place but frivolous as well.

  6. olivia says:

    I would smile about any lawsuit filed against Cheney/Bush/Haliburton. CROOKS.

  7. theallknowningone says:

    Oh the irony. BP running to the courthouse to sue everyone! When the common man does the same thing, the repubs call it frivolous.

  8. BOP Junkie says:

    @ Boogie Ogie – The “balls” to blast Matt, as you say. Yes I AM fit to say such and it would surprise you how much so. Don’t speak of what you don’t know about someone unless YOU know them.

    ntangle – very true on you comment. The only time “major or extensive” repairs were made to the stack when it became a real or obvious concern. Just like the riser tensioners on that rig, it has been known and was know for them to run them until they leaked soo bad, it had to be replaced, but Transocean didn’t want to replace them in the middle of drilling, because it would mean that they would go on ZERO dayrate (everything cost wise would end up with them and NOT the operator). So they would do necessary repairs in between wells and try to catch up when they can.

    Same goes for their 5 yr rig inspection (called the U-WILD), the first one they did, they took shortcuts back then (2004)in surveying the seachest (they only inspected half of them) and if those were ok, the Transocean rig manager at the time told them to move on. Well, the by-product of that was when Transocean almost sank the Deepwater Horizon back in 2007 when they were having to replace a valve on the sea chest that had been overlooked during that inspection. Transocean’s own people didn’t even follow their own safety procedures then. After it was said and done, Transocean fired the person that was doing the work and made the Captain at the time “quit or be fired”. Nice to give the higher ups options, huh?

  9. Joe Dokes says:

    Lawyers, licking their chops, spreading their greed . . . .

  10. Trail Trash says:

    @insider: It wasn’t cheap cement. Foam cement costs more than regular cement.

  11. Trail Trash says:

    The real fireworks and assignment of blame that many here seem to be yearning for will come in the trials regarding the civil lawsuits filed by the families of those killed. The lawsuits in this story are simply over liability in regards to work and purchase contracts, not so much in regards as to who was ultimately at fault.

  12. Jake MacButters says:

    Well, so much for honor among thieves and villains!

  13. john cobarruvias says:

    FRIVOLOUS LAWSUIT! Where is tort reform when we need it?

  14. insider view says:

    This would of never happen if quality cement was inserted. Clear case of cheap cost (who care what happens) lets just get our bonuses.

  15. Trail Trash says:

    For all those who think these lawsuits and counter-lawsuits are being driven by feelings of vindictiveness on the part of the companies, remember that CEOs and Board Directors have something called a “fiduciary responsibility” to protect the assets of a company.

  16. Commrade_Leftist says:

    HDH4 – I have to agree with you on the fact BP is the ultimate cause followed by Transocean. I would think Cameron is probably the least at fault here.

  17. Trail Trash says:

    These trials are not going to be as exciting as SarahATP is hoping for. They will mostly just be a bunch of lawyers arguing over clauses in the contracts. I think BOP junkie is right. Transocean is going to get a share of the liability.

  18. ntangle says:

    BOP junkie: According to earlier articles, that BOP never had a major overhaul as per API recommendations, but equipment was serviced or replaced as needed. Apparently that’s the work performed after each well by the SWAT team you mentioned. What’s your view of the advisability of one approach vs. the other, asssuming that personnel are at least certified?

  19. RachelJ says:

    I lose sympathy for companies like BP when they sue others. Their own history should be humbling. Whatever. It’s business and they’re doing what their legal ‘team’ decides, there’s no single-character or face of BP.

  20. hwh101proof says:

    I saw on facebook that some of the wives are being sued a well?

  21. Slatibarfarst says:

    Punitive damages! Punitive damages! Get them! I’m not rresponsible!

  22. mark says:

    Why aren’t they going after Haliburton for the failed cement job, they signed off on. I can definitely see Transocean in the lawsuit because of their “hands off” no responsibility contract. Cameron “did not meet the standards of a reasonable manufacturer and service provider,”. It’s interesting that Transocean modified a long standing proven design of the BOP and also the BOP had two sections of drill pipe going into it when it was removed instead of one. Transocean still hasn’t allowed it’s personnel to testify as to what happened on the days leading up to the catastrophe. On top of that Obama want’s to fine BP for $1500 to $4300 a barrel for oil spilled into the gulf that’s like $7350000000 dollars at $1500 a barrel. That is over 15 times the amount a single barrel of oil goes for on todays high priced market as a fine. Not to mention BP has done everything and then some to quell the problem through out the crisis. It’s one year later, the beaches are clean, people are fishing again, and Obama is ticked off because he wasn’t invited to the royal wedding for good reason, considering how many times he has snubbed our ally before the BP incident.

  23. BPISSCUM says:

    Sorry, but as each day passes BP just shows they didn’t learn a damn thing from this accident and are still passing the blame. They are a typical big company who doesn’t take responsibility for their issues, pushes blame around, but then reeps the profits and fattens their pockets. KARMAs a bitch BP, it’ll come around to you and you’ll answer to all of your lying ways.

  24. Boogie Ogie says:

    Understand that this is normal in corporate business as is considered ‘Professional’ to lookout for the interest of their shareholders, but you being a layman, I can understand your lack of insight.

    Mainline Junkie,
    Stick to pinning drugs, cause when it comes to Drilling Systems, you don’t know what you’re talking about. As the equipment owner, Transocean is the one who decides who works on the Stack, Riser, and Controls. Once Transocean took title and possession of the drilling system, they dictate what work gets done and who does it. Just like when one buys a car. In this case, T3 refurbished the BOP (not a Cameron Company) and Transocean modified the BOP interconnects which deviated from Cameron’s design (Smarter than the OEM, they are). Thus, the ROV Panels did not function as expected. Moreover, Transocean was notified of serious maintenance concerns, all documented, but chose to ignore them. Transocean found it cheaper to pay off an inspector which is a serious systemic issue within Transocean… and you have the balls to blast Matt??? You’re not fit to walk in his shadow.
    -I’m Out

  25. UNCLE REMUS says:

    Cameron is the first one to point the finger so this should be fun to watch!!!

  26. cannedspaghetti says:

    The BOP is owned by the rig owner just like the draw works, derrick or legs. Darth Cheney had a secret meeting back in 2000 that went on for a couple years, was never revealed to anybody but apparently one of hes “crown” achievements was limited liability so Grandpa panicked and sold his 401k stock while the R types loaded up on a stock that should be going bankrupt. Guess who is wealthy beyound belief while my and your grandparents go without? These are the same folks who never fight a war but send your kids out to be maimed or killed They call thenmselves republicans but they are truly plutopcrats and too dumb to even know their political bent. God please grant us all some brains. !!! Please

  27. HDH4 says:

    @BOP Junkie
    DID as in past tense… for whatever reason Transocean CHOSE not to renew the service contract of the stack prior to the failure.

    Either way this is a moot point… had BP not pushed the envelope none of this would have happened in the first place. They knew the risks they were taking and did so willingly. Their attempt to cut operating costs ended up biting them in the rear.

  28. BOP junkie says:

    @ Matt ~
    Hate to burst your bubble; but, Cameron DID have a contract in place for the Horizon’s BOP’s. The contract was with Transocean and NOT Bp. The BOP’s were owned by Transocean as part of the ENTIRE rig package. Every time a well is finished, Transocean gets the BOP’s up to the surface and they “overhaul” the stack in between wells (that is why people first heard the term SWAT Team). It’s not like a “police SWAT”, but Transocean refers to them as SWAT (Subsea Well Assesment Team). It’s a group of Transocean subsea folks who go from rig to rig to help re-build the BOP’s with the assistance of Cameron.

    It was also brought out during the Marine Board testimony that the regular Transocean subsea person on the Horizon (Mark Hay), testified under oath that he had NEVER been certified by Cameron to work on the BOP’s and under the Transocean and Cameron contract, only people who were certified were allowed to work on or perform maintenance on the BOP’s…

    That is why Transocean has put up the fight recently to put any of their other subsea folks on the stand to testify, THEY ARE TRYING TO COVER UP THEIR WRONGDOINGS…..

    Matter of fact, Transocean has several current openings for subsea personnel, you might be able to get a job and learn more…

  29. Ogie Ogilthorpe says:

    “Additionally, in order to protect ourselves, we, too, have filed crossclaims and counterclaims, including our indemnity claims, against other parties to the litigation,” she said in an e-mailed statement.

    So Cameron’s spokeswoman essentially says they filed suit based not on facts or merits, but just because they can throw mud at the wall to “protect themselves”? How professional.

  30. BON JOVI says:

    The fun begins. Now their gonna eat each other.

  31. ntangle says:

    Guess that hold-harmless clause isn’t worth much when your indemnifier is suing you.

  32. Indianpaintbrush says:

    Didn’t I read somewhere in the last year, that the BOP had been modified without BP’s knowledge?
    Otherwise….. Let the games begin.

  33. Matt says:

    How many other wells is BP using the EXACT SAME BOP on right now??!! Will they remove the “defective” BOP’s on the other wells and stop exploration aoround the world?? I thinnk not… Sour grapes.

  34. Matt says:

    Well since Cameron never had the service contract for the BOP… Kinda like bringing your 10 year old car back to the dealer after you never changed the oil for 10 years and asking for a refund…

  35. SarahATP says:

    This is gonna be great to watch!! “Well they did…” and “They did too…” and “We tried to tell ’em” and last but not least, the most repeated phrase will be “It wasn’t our responsibility to make that call…”