Commish: Poor Management That Caused BP Oil Spill Is Industry-Wide

The Deepwater Horizon blowout that lead to the worst oil spill in U.S. history was caused by poor management — poor management that, according to the presidential Oil Spill Commission, is industry-wide.

The commission, which has released some of its findings on the causes of the blowout, says the blowout could have been prevented by better management by BP and its partners, Halliburton and Transocean.

“The blowout was not the product of a series of aberrational decisions made by rogue industry or government officials that could not have been anticipated or expected to occur again,” the report reads. “Rather, the root causes are systemic and, absent significant reform in both industry practices and government policies, might well recur.”“Whether purposeful or not,” it goes on, “many of the decisions that BP, Halliburton, and Transocean made that increased the risk of the Macondo blowout clearly saved those companies significant time (and money).”

The commission released a handy chart to show which poor decisions saved money (click for larger version):

But the commission apparently isn’t ready to blame cost-cutting for the blowout. That last bit has an asterisk: “The Commission cannot say whether any person at BP or another company at Macondo [the well] consciously chose a riskier alternative because it would cost the company less money.”

That’s in line with what the commission’s lead investigator, Fred Bartlit, said in November.

“To date we have not seen a single instance where a human being made a conscious decision to favor dollars over safety,” he said at a hearing. “A lot has been said about this, but we have not found a situation where we can say a man had a choice between safety and dollars and put his money on dollars. If anybody has anything else to say about that, we’re happy to hear it.”

BP said the findings show the accident “was the result of multiple causes, involving multiple companies” — much like its own internal investigation. BP is trying to reduce its liability in the spill, as claims pile up and the Justice Department continues its criminal investigation.

You can read the full released excerpts below. The full report is scheduled for release next Tuesday.

National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling – Chapter 4 “the Macondo We…