Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

October 1, 2013

BP accused of lying to gov't during Gulf oil spill

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — BP lied to the U.S. government and withheld information about the amount of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico after its well blew out in 2010, attorneys told a judge Monday.

But lawyers for the London-based oil giant denied those accusations and said there was no way to prepare for such a unique blowout a mile below the sea floor. Second-guessing the company’s efforts to cap the well was “Monday morning quarterbacking at its worst,” BP attorney Mike Brock said during opening statements of the second phase of a trial over the spill.

This part focuses on BP’s response to the disaster and is designed to help U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier determine how much oil spewed into the Gulf.

The government’s estimate is 70 million gallons more than what BP says spilled. Establishing how much oil leaked into the Gulf during BP’s struggle to cap the well will help figure out the penalties the oil company must pay. Billions of dollars are at stake.

The first phase of the trial centered on what caused the blowout.

Brian Barr, an attorney for residents and businesses who claim they were hurt by the spill, said BP failed to prepare for a blowout and compounded the problem by misleading federal officials.

BP had a 600-page oil spill response plan that only included one page on “source control.” It simply called for assembling a team of experts to devise a way to stop a blowout, Barr said.

“BP’s plan was nothing more than a plan to plan,” he said.

The April 20, 2010, blowout of BP’s Macondo well 50 miles off the Louisiana coast triggered an explosion that killed 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and spawned the nation’s worst offshore oil spill. BP used a capping stack to seal the well on July 15, 2010, after other methods failed.

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