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Deepwater Horizon -- 'It Troubles Me Greatly.'
That is what Federal Judge Carl Barbier told Halliburton's lead attorney at the BP Oil Spill trial Thursday. Here is the report from Richard Thompson of the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
"Well, here's the problem with that, Mr. Godwin," the judge said, in his intro to what led to a strong rebuke. "It's clear that you knew, your client knew, everybody's known for some time now that the Kodiak well and the Kodiak cement was implicated in this case," he said. "Now, there can be arguments about what the court should make of that evidence, but there's no doubt that that evidence is arguably relevant to this case, to the Macondo well, because the undisputed evidence is that the underlying or initial cement blend that was used on Macondo was left over from Kodiak. So to say that you or your client had no knowledge that this evidence could be relevant and should have been produced in this case, I can't understand or accept that, that's number one," he said.
Barbier added: "It troubles me greatly. I don't know what I'm going to do. There's a pending motion for sanctions. I'm not making any ruling on that now, I don't have to because this is a bench trial."
"May I --" Godwin started to ask, when he was cut off.
"No, let's just resume the trial."
Halliburton has finally started to emerge from behind the indemnity clause in its contract with BP. As long as it could legally shift blame to BP, it kept quiet and hoped that Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) and his pronouncements that BP had used too few centralizers meme would carry the day. That meme figured prominently in the Oil Spill Commission's Chief Counsel's Report. But that argument is dependent on having flow upward from the formation in the annular space between the outside of the production casing and the inside of the bore hole and casing above it. Such flow can be ruled out because no oil or gas was found in that annular space at a depth of 17,200 feet, when the government's "solution" to the problem, the relief well, finally intersected Macondo 252. In other words, the government's "solution" did nothing to plug the hole and stop the flow! All the relief well accomplished is to provide forensic evidence to disprove Congressman Markey's assertions. All the nonsense about the relief well being the ultimate solution, underground blowouts, methane volcanoes, and blown rupture disks was just political theater. If the first relief well was redundant, what about the second relief well? Wasn't it just a joke from the beginning? The BP Oil Spill proved one thing: the incompetence of the Obama Administration.
And as further evidence of its ineffectiveness, consider the testimony of Halliburton engineer Jesse Gagliano. Once again we turn to Richard Thompson's reporting:
A Halliburton technical adviser who designed the cement used to seal BP's ill-fated Macondo oil well testified Tuesday that in hindsight he would not change the composition and design of the mixture....
...Thomas Roth, who now serves as global operations manager for Halliburton's Boots & Coots pressure control subsidiary, testified in the third week of the sprawling civil trial that the cement slurry was not designed to standards consistent with best practices, acknowledging that "subsequent reviews show we've identified gaps in that."
Knowing that now, plaintiffs' lawyer Paul Sterbcow asked Gagliano later in his testimony whether he second-guessed his decision.
"Having said what we just said, would you agree with me that maybe, had somebody sat down with you from Halliburton management or BP management and gone through some of the issues we just went through, you may not be of the opinion today that you would do this exactly the same all over again?" Sterbcow asked.
Gagliano testified during cross-examination that in the nearly three years since the Deepwater Horizon rig caught fire and exploded April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers and leading to one of the largest oil spills in the nation's history, he had not been told the results of Halliburton's investigations into the cause of the accident.
"You have never been told by anyone above you or anyone at Halliburton the results of the investigation or whether or not they have issues or criticisms with the work that you would not change as you sit here today?" Sterbcow asked.
"That has never been communicated to me," Gagliano testified.
So Halliburton has treated Mr. Gagliano like a mushroom, they kept him in the dark and fed him BS from their lawyers. And if he is still in the dark about the dangers of using nitrified cement as a pressure barrier in deep offshore wells, what is the assure us that Halliburton management has shared Mr. Roth's knowledge with any other Halliburton cement engineers? Has Halliburton been so smug that it has successfully co-opted the politicians and thereby avoided responsibility that is has been grossly negligent in keeping its employees aware of the significant risks while they blithely continue on their way? Is ignorance truly bliss?
As for the government, where are the regulators enforcing new safety rules while the use of nitrified cement goes uncorrected?
This trial is getting really interesting!
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