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BP’s Blowout Preventer Modified In China

From the UK’s Guardian:

This April 22, 2010 photo provided by the US Coast Guard shows the arm of a robot submarine attempting to activate a shutoff device known as a blowout preventer (BOP) to close off the flow of oil at the Deepwater Horizon well head.

BP oil spill: failed safety device on Deepwater Horizon rig was modified in China

Tim Webb
Sunday 18 July 2010   

BP ordered the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, whose explosion led to the worst environmental disaster in US history, to overhaul a crucial piece of the rig’s safety equipment in China, the [Guardian-owned] Observer has learnt. The blow-out preventer – the last line of defence against an out-of-control well – subsequently failed to activate and is at the centre of investigations into what caused the disaster.

Experts say that the practice of having such engineering work carried out in China, rather than the US, saves money and is common in the industry

There is no evidence that the significant modifications to the blowout preventer (BOP), which were carried out in China in 2005, caused the equipment to fail. But industry lawyers said BP could be made liable for any mistakes that a Chinese subcontractor made carrying out the work. It would be almost impossible to secure damages in China, where international law is barely recognised.

It is understood that lawyers for Cameron International, the manufacturer of the BOP, will argue the device was so significantly modified in China that it no longer resembled the original component, and that Cameron should therefore not be held liable.

Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon, which bought the BOP from Cameron, has already told congressional hearings into the disaster that the modifications were carried out at BP’s request and "under its direction" as the lessee of the rig. BP and Cameron declined to comment this weekend…

A little detail or two to keep in mind when the Chinese start drilling for oil with Cuba off the Florida Keys.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Sunday, July 18th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

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