BP, Contractors Hit with Sanctions

Friday, October 14, 2011 @ 04:10 PM gHale


BP and the major contractors involved in the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers and spewed more than 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico received sanctions this week from the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

The newly formed Bureau filed 15 “incidents of noncompliance” (INCs) to the companies. It did not release details of how much the companies may face in fines.

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By law, the companies face fines of up to $35,000 a day, per incident for the violations.

In its final report on the accident issued last month the Interior Department outlined infractions committed by the companies.

BP, owner of the ruptured Macondo well, received the lion’s share of the sanctions, with seven notices for violations ranging from failure to protect health and property to failing to keep the well under control at all times.

In a first for the department, BP’s contractors Transocean , which owned the Deepwater Horizon rig, and Halliburton , which carried out cementing on the well, also face sanctions.

The contractors each received four notices of violations, with Transocean accused of failing to properly maintain the rig’s blowout preventer and Halliburton accused of not properly cementing the well.

All three companies have 60 days to appeal the sanctions. The agency said it will consider imposing civil penalties for the notices once the appeal period has ended.
Any fines imposed by the drilling agency would be separate from the ongoing Justice Department lawsuits against BP and Transocean.

A Transocean spokesman said the company does plan to appeal its sanctions.

BP said it has taken steps to enhance safety and the sanctions show its contractors also played a role in the spill. “We continue to encourage other parties, including Transocean and Halliburton, to acknowledge their responsibilities in the accident,” BP said in a statement.

BP and its contractors are embroiled in various lawsuits blaming each other for the spill.

Halliburton did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Separately, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board filed a civil action in federal court to enforce subpoenas issued to Transocean for its investigation of the drilling accident.



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