March 24, 2011 in Nation/World

Blowout preventer flawed, study finds

Associated Press
 

NEW ORLEANS – The blowout preventer that should have stopped the BP oil spill failed largely because of a faulty design and a trapped piece of pipe, an official probe found Wednesday, appearing to shift some blame for the blowout from the oil giant and toward those who built and maintained the 300-ton safety device.

A 551-page investigative report said the piece of drill pipe prevented the blowout preventer’s blind shear rams from sealing the well around the time of the April 20 oil rig explosion off the coast of Louisiana. The shear rams are components in a blowout preventer that cut, or shear, through drill pipe and form a seal against well pressure.

The drill pipe’s position within the wellbore caused it to buckle and bow when the well lost control, impeding the rams, according to the report.

The Norwegian firm hired by the government to test the blowout preventer also faulted the performance and design of the failsafe device.

Det Norske Veritas’ report doesn’t single out any one party involved in the well, but discusses in great detail why the device didn’t work. The device was made by Cameron and maintained by Transocean Ltd.

BP, Cameron and Transocean did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report.

Speculation on why the blowout preventer failed has persisted during the year since the disaster.

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