10-minute phone call may decide BP rig workers’ fate

Don Vidrine at Wednesday’s arraignment in New Orleans (Bloomberg)

Friday’s column, available on houstonchronicle.com:

The difference between exoneration and a lifetime in prison may come down to a 10-minute phone call.

In charging two BP rig supervisors with the deaths of 11 workers in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the government contends that when confronted with confusing results from a critical pressure test, the men ordered drilling operations to proceed without consulting their superiors in Houston.

The indictment says the pair “failed to phone engineers onshore at that time to alert them to the problems” with the pressure tests.

The success of the government’s case may come down to whether it can convince a jury of that statement. Whether the men acted alone or consulted with their bosses may prove to be a deciding factor between guilt or innocence.

Read more here.