staff and news service reports
updated 8/30/2010 1:35:26 PM ET 2010-08-30T17:35:26

An internal BP investigation has faulted its own managers aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig as well as partner Transocean for misreading pressure data just before the Macondo well blew, a source familiar with the report told Bloomberg News.

BP managers aboard the rig concluded that the pressure test confirmed that the well was in good shape, the source said, clearing the way for rig workers to begin replacing heavier drilling fluid that was in the well with seawater.

The seawater turned out to be too light for the amount of pressure exerted from natural gas that had begun leaking into the well. The gas surged up the well, causing the explosion that killed 11 workers, sank the rig and led the the largest offshore spill in history.

BP said Monday that it won't comment on the report. "We have not seen it ourselves," said BP spokesman Mark Salt. "I am not going to comment on speculation."

BP did say on May 24 that the pressure tests conducted by the drilling team were among the issues under investigation.

Moreover, a Coast Guard-led investigative panel has focused on how BP employees failed to detect signals that the well was about to erupt.

John Guide, BP's wells team leader, told the investigators on July 22 that employees of Transocean Ltd., the rig owner contracted by BP, were also reviewing the data in the hours before the blowout on April 20.

Guide quoted a BP colleague as saying the Transocean employees had noted the anomalous test results but said they had seen similar results in the past which did not indicate a problem.

Expert: Tests were not acceptable
An expert witness who testified before the federal panel on July 23 said the pressure tests had not been satisfactory.

"None of the four tests were an acceptable test," said John Smith, an oil industry veteran who is now associate professor of petroleum engineering at Louisiana State University.

Asked whether the tests were completed in an acceptable manner, Smith said, "No."

Mark Bly, BP's director of safety, heads the BP team preparing the 200-page internal report. It is expected to be released in the next two weeks.

The federal panel last Thursday asked BP to turn over a copy of the Bly report as soon as possible.

Several BP workers have been put on leave, BP America President Lamar McKay told the HouseĀ  Energy Committee on June 15. BP has not identified them, however.

Meanwhile, bad weather has prompted BP to delay retrieval of the failed blowout preventer atop its ruptured well.

"We are in a weather hold right now,"said retired Coast Guard Adm.Thad Allen, noting seas were up to 6 feet high at the site of the Macondo well.

He said bad weather is expected to last two to three days. The blowout preventer retrieval had been slated for Tuesday or Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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