BP executive defends tactics of oil spill response

Transocean officials on the Deep Water Horizon oil drilling rig felt blowout could've been capped much earlier than July 15, making the 2010 crisis in the Gulf of Mexico less damaging.
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN Modified: October 1, 2013 at 10:10 pm •  Published: October 2, 2013
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— A BP executive who led the company's efforts to halt its massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico testified Tuesday that his decisions were guided by the principle that they shouldn't do anything that could make the crisis even worse.

James Dupree, BP's first witness for the second phase of a trial over the deadly disaster, said his teams worked simultaneously on several strategies for killing the well that blew out in April 2010.

Dupree said the company decided in mid-May that it wasn't ready to employ the capping strategy. He also said he was concerned that it could jeopardize other efforts to seal the well.

“We were very intent not to make the situation worse,” said Dupree, who was promoted to BP's regional president for the Gulf of Mexico after the spill was stopped. Dupree is scheduled to resume his testimony Wednesday.

BP's trial adversaries have argued that the company could have stopped the spill much earlier than July 15 if it had used the capping strategy.

Earlier Tuesday, an employee of the company that owned the doomed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig testified that he was surprised when BP scrapped the capping strategy his team had devised and never heard an explanation for the decision.

“We were so close. We had come a long way,” said Robert Turlak, manager of subsea engineering and well control systems for Transocean.

During the first few weeks after the spill, engineers focused on two methods for stopping the flow of oil: Capping the well was one option. The other, called “top kill,” involved pumping drilling mud and other material into the Deepwater Horizon rig's blowout preventer.