Leading article: Black marks all round

Share
Related Topics

The disgraceful episode that was the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has become even more so with the news that officials from both Halliburton and BP had been told beforehand that the cement to be used to seal the bottom of the well – and thus prevent such an explosion from occurring – was unstable.

But they went ahead anyway. On 20 April, the Macondo well blew up, killing 11 rig workers and creating the biggest oil spill in US history, inflicting billions of dollars' worth of economic and environmental damage. It is now clearer than ever that cutting of corners by companies in pursuit of profit, and grossly inadequate supervision by government regulators, were mainly to blame. Naturally, Halliburton, which manufactured the cement, is disputing the new findings released by the presidential commission set up to investigate the disaster. It says that early tests on the cement mixture suggesting that there were problems were "preliminary", and that, in any case, it had informed BP. But the findings contradict statements from Halliburton officials at earlier probes of the Deepwater Horizon disaster that the cement was perfectly stable – and that the main fault lay with BP for using too few centralisers – elements that ensure the drilling pipe is properly centred in the well.

BP, equally naturally, blames Halliburton, and the argument will continue. Suffice it to note that Halliburton, which was led between 1995 and 2000 by the former US vice-president Dick Cheney, has been involved in several controversies, including the alleged overcharging of the US military for work in Iraq and bribes paid by its former subsidiary KBR to top officials in Nigeria. If it is deemed to be significantly liable for the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the financial consequences could be extremely serious – as evinced by the 16 per cent plunge in the company's share price when word first came of the commission's report.

But responsibility also lies with the US government. It is all very well to conduct rigorous inquires after the event. The truth is that the agency of the Interior Department supposedly policing oil well safety in the Gulf was so understaffed that the companies in effect wrote their own rules. This was a tragedy that should never have happened.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Election catch-up: I’m not saying the Ed stone is bad – it is so terrible I am lost for words

John Rentoul
 

Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living