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

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US  

Air strikes? Talk of God? Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script after James Foley beheading

Robert Fisk
 

Next they'll say an independent Scotland can't use British clouds...

Mark Steel
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape