Thursday, 28 February 2013

Was BP Grossly Negligent?

Not all failures are equally inexcusable. The pressure test is employed widely, and is universally respected and understood by engineers. I know of many examples of pushy management, inadequate procedures, bad design and sloppy construction but the Gulf oil catastrophe is a first for ignoring a failed pressure test. The test is meant to catch failures in all other areas, although rectification may be very expensive at such a late stage.

This is a clear case of gross incompetence by all those who knew about and ignored the blindingly obvious pressure test failure. But common sense cannot go from there to gross corporate negligence, unless BP had a policy of deliberately employing idiots. All commercial enterprises are motivated by profit. It is those trying to grab the $billions (effectively from BP's innocent shareholders) who are blinded by greed here, not corporate BP.