How Impartial Is BP's Report on Gulf of Mexico Explosion?

When BP (BP) launched its probe into the Gulf of Mexico rig explosion, the goal was to internally investigate the disaster impartially. But BP's lawyers helped prepare the report, which raises questions about the study's impartiality, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing the report's lead author Mark Bly.

On April 20, BP's Macondo well blew out and the Deepwater Horizon offshore rig exploded, killing 11 crew members and causing the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The BP report looking into the incident was presented by BP as an impartial investigation. But outside experts have been skeptical of what will likely be a key document in hundreds of lawsuits, the WSJ reports.

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Bly said in an interview Wednesday that lawyers assigned to the investigation team helped "with the logic of the writing" but didn't influence the report's conclusions. This role wasn't news. Last month when the report was released, a spokesman said that lawyers "reviewed" it and provided "legal advice and counsel to the [investigative] team."

But experts now say the report's conclusions seem convenient for BP's legal position and play down several damning pieces of evidence against BP, including the company's decision not to use more pipe-centering devices despite Halliburton's (HAL) warnings that these were necessary to ensure a good cement seal. Also, the decision to remove protective drilling fluid before setting a final cement plug and other crucial measures have not been properly addressed in the report.

BP's report also blames the disaster on contractors, especially rig owner Transocean (RIG) and cementing contractor Halliburton, rejecting much of the blame aimed at it. Of course, Transocean and Halliburton have said BP, as the well's owner, made most of the decisions.