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Independent Commission on Deepwater Horizon Disaster to Lay Out Findings On Causes

Posted on 08 Nov 2010

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A White House panel over the next two days will be looking into the causes of the BP offshore drilling disaster, which could result in exposing the liability on the part of the various companies involved.

The panel's chief counsel Fred Bartlit in preparation for Monday's meeting released a damaging report last month that said Halliburton used flawed cement in BP's doomed Macondo well.

Barlit will offer more details on Monday about his initial findings on the origins of the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig that ruptured BP's underwater well, unleashing millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over the summer.

Representatives from BP and Halliburton, as well as Transocean Ltd , the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, will also present their perspectives on the events that led to the largest offshore drilling spill in U.S. history.

In the past, BP has accused Halliburton of using an unstable cement design and said Transocean failed to test the automatic shut-off function on the blowout preventer before it was used on the rig.

Transocean has denied these charges and said BP's well design was a key factor in the accident. Halliburton has also defended its cement work on the well, and blamed other actions for causing the explosion.

Created by President Barack Obama in the aftermath of drilling accident, the seven-member commission is ultimately charged with developing proposals to prevent and respond to major spills in the future.

The panel's two-day session this week will also explore offshore drilling regulation, with a presentation from the head of the Interior Department's drilling agency Michael Bromwich on Tuesday.

Marvin Odum, president of Shell Oil Company , and Rex Tillerson, chief executive of Exxon Mobil will also appear before the panel on Tuesday to discuss industry safety culture.