BP, Halliburton, Transocean Get U.S. Violation Notices

BP Plc, Transocean Ltd. and Halliburton Co. received environmental and safety violation notices from the U.S. for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a step that may lead to fines in the nation’s worst marine disaster.

U.S. regulators sent notices after the Deepwater Horizon accident investigation on Sept. 14 found that the companies violated federal offshore safety standards. The companies have 60 days to appeal before any penalties are imposed, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said today in a statement.

“To ensure the safe and environmentally responsible conduct of offshore operations, companies that violate federal regulations must be held accountable,” Michael Bromwich, director of the safety agency, said in the statement. “The joint investigation clearly revealed the violation of numerous federal regulations designed to protect the integrity of offshore operations.”

BP, owner of the well, was cited for seven violations, including failing to perform operations in a “safe and workmanlike manner,” failing to take measures to prevent pollution of offshore waters, failing to keep the well under control and not properly cementing the well.

Maintenance Failure

Transocean, owner of the rig that was drilling the Macondo well, was cited with four violations, including failing to maintain the rig’s blowout preventer, a stack of valves designed to shut an out-of-control well. Halliburton, which provided cement that was being prepared to seal the well, also received four violation notices, including a citation for not properly cementing the well.

The notice “makes clear that contractors, like operators, are responsible for properly conducting their deepwater drilling activities,” London-based BP said in an e-mailed statement.

BP said it is strengthening its oversight of contractors and putting new safety standards in place that exceed current regulatory requirements in the Gulf of Mexico. The Macondo spill occurred after an explosion at the well on April 20, 2010.

Transocean has received the notice and plans to appeal its citations, Lou Colasuonno, a spokesman for the Vernier, Switzerland-based company, said in an e-mailed statement.

Halliburton “believes it is fully indemnified by BP against any loss resulting from the Macondo incident and any penalties arising from the violations alleged” by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Tara Mullee Agard, a spokeswoman for Halliburton, said in an e-mailed statement. The Houston-based company is reserving its right to appeal, Agard said.

A report issued last month by a joint U.S. Interior Department-Coast Guard panel held BP “ultimately responsible” for ensuring the safety of crew members and the environment while Transocean and Halliburton shared some of the blame for the catastrophe that killed 11 workers and spilled almost 5 million barrels of oil.

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