A presidential commission investigating the BP oil disaster showed that oil services contractor Hallibruton knew weeks before the Deepwater Horizon blast that the cement mixture it planned to use to seal the well wasn't holding.
Cement Mixture Could Be to Blame for Deepwater Horizon Disaster
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor:
It started with a blowout and a fire. It went on for 87 days. That's 87 days worth of crude oil straight from the ground, billowing into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The BP disaster became the largest environmental disaster ever. It all but wiped out the seafood industry in that region. They're now coming back. It disrupted lives, entire towns, caused a massive financial impact as well. The search for a culprit has resulted in an early report tonight, zeroing in on a company that's been in the news before for something else, Halliburton. We begin tonight with NBC's Tom Costello in Washington.
TOM COSTELLO reporting:
Months before the DeepWater Horizon rig exploded, killing 11 workers, evidence now suggests both Halliburton and BP were aware the cement mixture used to seal the well from explosive gases wasn't stable, yet they went ahead with the job anyway. Investigators for the presidential commission today reported that cement provider Halliburton conducted two tests in February that showed its cement mixture wasn't stable. On March 8th, Halliburton notified BP about one of those tests. There's no indication BP acted. Then in April, just seven days before the explosion, Halliburton conducted two more tests using a slightly different mixture.
In the first, the cement was found unstable but investigators say Halliburton never told BP. Investigators say Halliburton then changed the testing protocols and got one good test. Those results reported to BP after the explosion.
Professor DON VAN NIEUWENHUISE (Professor, University of Houston): If the cement had worked, the disaster would definitely have been avoided.
It--like I said, it's the first line of defense.
COSTELLO: The presidential commission asked an outside lab run by Chevron to run its own tests on the cement shown in these photos. Chevron's letter to the presidential commission details nine separate tests.
Chevron reports, quote, "We were unable to generate stable foam with any of the tests." Former Shell Oil president John Hofmeister.
Mr. JOHN HOFMEISTER: BP makes a choice about what kind of a cement job it wants. It's my opinion, and it's clearly opinion, this was an effort to rush this job to conclusion.
COSTELLO: While investigators say the cement job must have failed, they can't yet say whether it was the sole cause of the explosion.
Representative Ed Markey is chairing a congressional investigation.
Representative EDWARD MARKEY (Democrat, Massachusetts): It is clear that BP and Halliburton were more interested in their own bottom line than they were in what was going on at the bottom of the well.
COSTELLO: Halliburton says it's studying today's report. BP says it has no comment. BP's CEO Bob Dudley has declined an invitation to appear before Congressman Markey's committee. Today Markey said he's hoping Dudley will reconsider. Brian:
WILLIAMS: All right, Tom Costello in our Washington bureau tonight. Tom, thanks.