BP won't address oil spill report findings at committee hearing

BP and its major contractors are warning that they won’t have much to tell Congress about last month’s federal report that detailed missteps by the companies that led to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Officials from BP, Transocean and Halliburton are appearing Thursday morning before the House Natural Resources Committee, which is reviewing the joint Interior Department-U.S. Coast Guard report that followed a nearly yearlong probe that included scores of subpoenas.

“As we have communicated to this committee, while we respect and appreciate the committee’s attention to the release of the Joint Investigative Team Report, we cannot discuss and comment on the report’s findings in any detail because the facts regarding the causes of the accident are the subject of ongoing litigation and investigations regarding the accident,” states BP America Vice President Raymond Dempsey Jr. in prepared testimony to the committee.

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Similarly, an official for Transocean — which owned the now-sunken Deepwater Horizon rig that drilled BP’s Macondo well — warns in prepared testimony that he will be unable to respond to “specific findings” and cited active litigation.

The Halliburton witness, a vice president with subsidiary Sperry Drilling, also warns that he will be “very limited” in his remarks. Halliburton performed the cement work on BP’s well.

The federal report casts blame on all three companies, but is toughest on BP.


Interior on Wednesday sent the companies formal notices that they have violated offshore drilling regulations.

The industry witnesses will testify after the co-chairmen of the Interior-U.S. Coast Guard team and other Interior and Coast Guard officials.

BP’s Dempsey does, however, emphasize that the federal probe “makes clear” that the accident has multiple causes involving all three companies.

“BP has consistently acknowledged its role in the accident. BP continues to encourage other parties to acknowledge their roles in the accident and to step forward to fulfill their obligation to Gulf communities,” Dempsey said.

The industry statements, while steering clear of the report’s specific claims, address several other areas. BP, for instance, touts the safety reforms it has implemented since the April 2010 accident that killed 11 people and ultimately dumped several million barrels of oil into the Gulf. The testimony is available here.

This story was updated at 10:50 a.m.