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BP Deep Horizon Civil Trial: Witness Claims Investigation Flawed

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During the second day of a civil trial regarding the Deep Horizon explosion and oil spill in New Orleans three years ago, a witness said the internal investigation of BP plc (ADR) (NYSE:BP) related to the incident was flawed.

According to Robert Bea, professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who testified during the trial on Tuesday,  BP’s internal investigation of the explosion and oil spill did not evaluate the decisions made by its management prior to the incident

Bea serves as an expert witness for the United States Department of Justice that filed a complaint against BP plc (ADR) (NYSE:BP) and eight other companies related to the Deep Horizon accident, which is considered the worst oil spill in the history of the United States.

In his testimony, Bea emphasized that the oil company’s study known as the ‘Bly Report’ did not address the possible systemic causes including the actions conducted by the management prior to the incident. According to him, the Bly Report focused on the actual cause of the blowout of the drilling rig, the equipment and the involvement of the crew in the accident.

During the trial, Bea said the Bly Report does not represent a full and complete investigation of process safety.

The DOJ accused the company of gross negligence or gross willful misconduct during the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico three years ago. According to the DOJ, BP plc (ADR) (NYSE:BP) practiced a culture of corporate recklessness during the disaster. The justice department also accused Transocean, owner and operator of the Deep Horizon rig, of gross negligence and willful misconduct. The DOJ also filed a complaint against Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL), which provided cement work in the oil well.

Other witnesses are scheduled to appear including Lamar McKay, chairman and president of BP Americas and the previous recorded depositions of Tony Harward, former CEO of BP and Kevin Lacy, former head of the company’s Gulf of Mexico drilling and completions operation will be presented in the trial today.

The court scheduled another trial in the fall to determine the extent of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as well as the amount to charge the companies under the Clean Water Act. Many estimate that the penalty could reach as much as $17.6 billion. Transocean and Halliburton expect the penalty would be below $5 billion.

The Deep Horizon explosion and oil spill killed 11 workers and became the worst oil spill in the country.

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