Cameron Responsible for Oil Well Blowout, BP Says in Suit

Cameron International Corp. (CAM)’s blowout-prevention equipment was a cause “in whole or in part” of the blowout of the Macondo well and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year, BP Plc (BP/) said in a court filing.

Cameron’s design and manufacture of the blowout preventer “used on the Deepwater Horizon, as well as Cameron’s maintenance and modification of that BOP, did not meet the standards of a reasonable manufacturer and service provider,” BP said today in a filing in federal court in New Orleans. The blowout preventer “failed to properly operate when needed and was unreasonably dangerous when used as intended.”

BP is seeking damages from Cameron for providing an allegedly defective product, as well as contributions for any money the oil company has to pay for claims under the Oil Pollution Act, the company said in the filing. BP said it has committed to paying all legitimate claims while reserving the right to collect from Cameron or other responsible parties.

The Macondo well blew up one year ago today, setting off the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history and leading to hundreds of lawsuits against BP and its partners and contractors. Today’s filing came as part of a series of complaints and counterclaims by plaintiffs and defendants meeting a deadline set by the New Orleans judge overseeing the suits.

The lawsuits also name as defendants Transocean Ltd. (RIG), which owned the Deepwater Horizon rig, Halliburton Corp., which provided cementing services, and BP’s minority partners in the well, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (APC) and Mitsui & Co.’s Moex Offshore LLC unit. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier has scheduled a nonjury trial for February 2012 to determine fault.

Oil, Gas Surge

Cameron said in court filings last week that the explosion wasn’t its fault because oil and gas were already surging toward the rig when workers tried to activate the blowout-prevention equipment to seal the well. “Hydrocarbons had entered the riser well before the crew attempted to activate the BOP, and even a perfectly functioning BOP could not have prevented the explosions,” Cameron said in its April 15 filing.

Plaintiffs suing the companies over the spill have claimed Houston-based Cameron’s BOP wasn’t designed to handle the extreme environment and thicker drill pipes found in ultra-deep wells like the one the Deepwater Horizon was drilling for BP in the Gulf of Mexico. BP claims the blowout preventer was defectively designed and incapable of working as expected.

“Today is the deadline under the relevant statue for all parties to file claims against each other,” Rhonda Barnat, a Cameron spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “It is not surprising that the companies are filing to protect their indemnity rights.”

Cameron has also filed claims “in order to protect ourselves,” she said.

The case is In Re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, MDL-2179, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

To contact the reporters on this story: Margaret Cronin Fisk in Southfield, Michigan, at mcfisk@bloomberg.net; Allen Johnson Jr. in New Orleans at allenmct@gmail.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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