Wednesday, April 16, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

BP executive defends spill response tactics

NEW ORLEANS  — A BP executive who led the company’s efforts to halt its massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico testified Tuesday that his decisions were guided by the principle that they shouldn’t do anything that could make the crisis even worse.

James Dupree, BP’s first witness for the second phase of a trial over the deadly disaster, said his teams worked simultaneously on several strategies for killing the well that blew out in April 2010.

Dupree said the company decided in mid-May that it wasn’t ready to employ the capping strategy. He also said he was concerned that it could jeopardize other efforts to seal the well.

“We were very intent not to make the situation worse,” said Dupree, who was promoted to BP’s regional president for the Gulf of Mexico after the spill was stopped. Dupree is scheduled to resume his testimony Wednesday.

BP’s trial adversaries have argued that the company could have stopped the spill much earlier than July 15 if it had used the capping strategy.

Earlier Tuesday, an employee of the company that owned the doomed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig testified that he was surprised when BP scrapped the capping strategy his team had devised and never heard an explanation for the decision.

“We were so close. We had come a long way,” said Robert Turlak, Transocean’s manager of subsea engineering and well control systems.

During the first few weeks after the spill, engineers focused on two methods for stopping the flow of oil: Capping the well was one option. The other, called “top kill,” involved pumping drilling mud and other material into the Deepwater Horizon rig’s blowout preventer.

BP ultimately used a capping stack to stop the spill July 15 after several other methods failed.

Turlak’s team was working on a strategy that was called “BOP-on-BOP” because it lowered a second blowout preventer on top of the rig’s failed one. He called it the “obvious solution” and said it was ready for installation in early June.

But BP concluded it wasn’t a viable option because it could have made the situation worse and hampered other strategies if it failed. BP said the capping stack that later sealed the well was specifically designed to land on the well system above the blowout preventer.

BP employed the “top kill” method in May 2010, but it didn’t stop the flow of oil. The company says its adversaries have ignored evidence that the “BOP-on-BOP” option wasn’t approved or ready for safe installation before “top kill.”

The trial’s second phase opened Monday with claims that BP ignored decades of warnings about the risks of a deep-water blowout and withheld crucial information about the size of the spill. Plaintiffs’ lawyers claim BP knew the “top kill” strategy was doomed based on higher flow rate estimates that the company didn’t share with federal officials at the time.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who is presiding over the trial without a jury, also heard videotaped testimony Tuesday by a manager employed by cement contractor Halliburton. Richard Vargo, who assisted on the top kill attempts, said he didn’t learn until later that BP didn’t believe the procedure would work given the high flow rates.

“I’m pretty angry,” Vargo said, choking back tears.

The trial’s first phase, which ended in April, focused on the complex chain of mistakes and failures that caused the blowout.

The second phase is divided into two segments: The first centers on BP’s efforts to cap the well. The second is designed to help Barbier determine how much oil spilled into the Gulf.

The government’s estimate is 70 million gallons more than what BP says spilled. Establishing how much oil leaked into the Gulf will help figure out the penalties the oil company must pay. Billions of dollars are at stake.

Eleven workers died in the explosion on the rig that was triggered by the blowout.

University of California-Berkeley engineering professor Robert Bea, an expert witness for plaintiffs’ attorneys, testified that BP didn’t spend any money before the Deepwater Horizon disaster to develop technology for controlling a deep-water blowout. At the time of the Macondo blowout, the company’s oil spill response plan simply called for assembling a team of experts to assess the situation while drilling a relief well to halt the flow of oil.

“This is a ‘think about it when it happens’ plan,” Bea said.

During cross-examination by a BP lawyer, Bea acknowledged that other offshore operators had virtually identical plans for responding to a spill. Other companies didn’t have capping stacks suitable for deep-water usage, either, Bea said.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Supervisor candidates file conflict-of-interest forms

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1

Vacaville set to usher in new chapter for Police Department

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Solano Jews gather for start of Passover

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Suisun council debates train depot renovation

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
 
Trial begins for teacher accused of abusing children

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3

Suisun police ID shooting victim

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
County discusses consolidated dispatch

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

Miner Slough Bridge to see repairs

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
 
 
‘Heaven is for Real’ opens Wednesday

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B5

Fiesta Days pageant organizers seek contestants

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

 
Easter hunt set for Mare Island

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5

 
Coakley joins Solano fair board

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6

Crews make quick work of vehicle fire

By Glen Faison | From Page: A6, 6 Comments | Gallery

 
Paper Clover Campaign supports Solano County 4-H

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A6

 
Hundreds flock to Krispy Kreme as it opens doors

By Susan Winlow | From Page: B9 | Gallery

 
County to honor Solano educators

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A14

.

US / World

Officials: Huge San Francisco blaze was accidental

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
‘Shrimp Boy’ pleads not guilty in corruption case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Solemn tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Immigration activists urge Obama to act boldly

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Congress is giving states the transportation blues

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Police: Suspects in killings wore GPS devices

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14, 1 Comment

DNA alternative to Pap smear sparks medical debate

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Robot sub returns to water after 1st try cut short

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Supremacist faces murder charges in Kansas deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Ukraine: Military secures airport from attack

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Democrats have outside money advantage – for now

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
First women move into Army platoon artillery jobs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Final deadline arrives for health exchange sign-up

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
New LA newspaper embraces print in digital world

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Hamas praises deadly West Bank shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A15

 
2 dead after ferry sinks off SKorean coast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A15

.

Opinion

Expand Red Top Road

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A13

 
Oh, for the days of Dr. Welby

By Dan K. Thomasson | From Page: A13, 9 Comments

 
Poor Judgement in Flight 370 column

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A13

Senseless babble that hurts

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A13

 
.

Living

What love gives you

By Barton Goldsmith | From Page: A2

 
.

Entertainment

Boston Globe wins Pulitzer for bombing coverage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Lindsay Lohan’s mom pleads guilty to DWI in NY

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Strahan’s ‘GMA’ side job confirmed with his visit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
.

Sports

Indians shut out Mustangs

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Cal hires Tennessee’s Cuonzo Martin as coach

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Warriors trying to move on without Andrew Bogut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Sharks’ Torres uncertain for playoff opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

MLB marks 67th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Ex-Minnesota State, Mankato coach returning to job

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Panthers jump Sabres to win NHL draft lottery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
More former players sue NHL regarding concussions

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

49ers sign WR Brandon Lloyd to 1-year deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Business

Twitter buys data analytics partner Gnip

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Yellen signals more aggressive stance toward banks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

.

Obituaries

Evonne Medina

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Carolyn McClelland

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics