It doesn’t qualify as light summer reading, but BP’s report on the Deepwater Horizon tragedy in April figures to be a page-turner for interested parties in many law offices and corporate suites around Houston and in other oil and gas centers globally. And in more than a few corners of Washington, D.C.
Early reviews of the BP document are in and, no surprise, they’re less than kind.
The oil giant is accused of using the long-awaited report as a launching pad for its complicated legal defense and as a platform to shift blame for the tragedy to others involved. Would anyone have seriously expected something different?
The most succinct response to the report we’ve seen was offered by Chronicle cartoonist Nick Anderson, who morphed the ubiquitous BP flower symbol into petals shaped like pointing fingers in Thursday’s cartoon.
Yes, the BP fingers were pointing: At Transocean, which owned the rig; at Halliburton, which performed cement jobs on the well; and at Cameron, which built the blowout preventer that failed to stop the fatal explosion.
Almost immediately, fingers were pointed back at BP by the accused. And so it is likely to go as other studies of the accident are made public. The legal jousting is likely to play out over years, if not decades, experts reckon, and cost the litigants millions in fees and perhaps billions in damages.
Like most, we’ve spent our summer watching the spill drama play out. Along the way, we’ve been visited by oil and gas industry leaders and other knowledgeable insiders passing through town. Some have dropped by for meetings with the editorial board on spill-related business; others on unrelated errands.
In one way or another, the spill has always come up, and we could not help but notice an informal consensus about BP emerging among these insiders that must be addressed. It is a concern that the company’s corporate culture played a role, perhaps a large one, in setting up the circumstances that led to tragedy on April 20.
For the sake of the survival of the entire offshore industry, that subject must be addressed without flinching.