Federal report hits Transocean over Gulf rig explosion

The report does not address the factors that initially led to the loss of “well control” at BP’s Macondo well and other drilling issues that are under the jurisdiction of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, the agency conducting the probe with the Coast Guard.

Instead it explores numerous safety problems onboard the rig, and also faults oversight by the Deepwater Horizon’s flag state — the Marshall Islands — and says better Coast Guard oversight of foreign-flagged drilling units is needed.

Problems that investigators found include “poor maintenance of electrical equipment that may have ignited the explosion, bypassing of gas alarms and automatic shutdown systems that could prevent an explosion, and lack of training of personnel on when and how to shutdown engines and disconnect the MODU [mobile offshore drilling unit] from the well to avoid a gas explosion and mitigate the damage from an explosion and fire.”

“These deficiencies indicate that Transocean’s failure to have an effective safety management system and instill a culture that emphasizes and ensures safety contributed to this disaster,” the report states.

“This investigation seeks to prevent an accident similar to the Deepwater Horizon by identifying the factors that led to the tragedy and making recommendations to remove or minimize those factors in the future,” said Capt. David Fish, chief of the Coast Guard's Office of Investigations and Casualty Analysis, in a statement Friday.

The report includes dozens of recommendations around maintenance, ventilation, improved fire protection and resistance on drilling rigs, as well as improved emergency drills and evacuation procedures and many others.

The final joint investigation report is expected to be released by late July.