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Transocean criticised by oil spill commission

A series of cost-cutting decisions by Swiss-based oil rig owner Transocean and its partners contributed to the oil spill that ravaged the Gulf of Mexico over the summer.

“Whether purposeful or not, many of the decisions that BP, Halliburton and Transocean made that increased the risk of the Macondo blowout clearly saved those companies significant time (and money),” said a report by the White House oil spill commission.

The report ultimately blamed management failures for the April 20 explosion that ruptured the Macondo well, claimed 11 lives and released millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf.

It outlines major missteps by BP, by Halliburton, which oversaw cementing for the Macondo well, and by Transocean, owner and operator of the Deepwater Horizon rig.

Transocean and BP were chided for lacking an internal procedure for interpreting negative pressure tests, which workers on the Deepwater Horizon rig misread.

In addition, Transocean failed to communicate to crew lessons learned from a similar incident on one of the company’s rigs that almost led to an accident in the North Sea four months before the Macondo accident.

In response to the report, Transocean said the company’s workers were “well trained” and considered among the best in the business. The company also said that consistent with industry standards, the final procedures on the rig were directed by BP engineers.

“Based on the limited information made available to them, the Transocean crew took appropriate actions to gain control of the well,” a Transocean spokesman said.

Following the report, Transocean shares jumped by four per cent on the Swiss stock market to SFr71.70 ($74).

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