NEW ORLEANS (AP) — BP's head of drilling engineering for the Gulf of Mexico at the time of the Deepwater Horizon disaster testified he didn't believe deepwater drilling was a "high-risk" activity before the April 2010 blowout of the company's Macondo well, according to newly released court documents.
Jonathan Sprague's March 2011 testimony is contained in a batch of more than 100 depositions that plaintiffs' lawyers submitted Thursday to the federal judge presiding over a trial for litigation over the massive Gulf oil spill.
During his pretrial deposition, Sprague said he recognized the risks associated with deepwater wells but thought they could be eliminated.
Plaintiffs' lawyers and government attorneys claim BP and its contractors ignored risks in a rush to finish drilling the well.
Conrad Williams, one of the lead lawyers for Gulf Coast businesses and residents who claim the spill cost them money, asked Sprague if the Macondo project "constituted a high-risk operation."
"At the time, I did not believe it to be high risk," Sprague said.
"Sir, isn't it true that a failure to appropriately appreciate and analyze risk can result in catastrophic consequences?" Williams asked.
"I don't know that to be true in all cases," Sprague said.
"Well, risk wasn't appropriately analyzed on the Deepwater Horizon during the five days before that rig was lost, was it?" Williams asked.
"I don't agree with that statement," Sprague said. "I think at the time the individuals involved, which included BP, service companies and contractor personnel believed that they understood all the risk."
Sprague isn't expected to testify in person at the trial that started Monday. However, the depositions submitted this week could be evidence for U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to weigh if he ultimately decides how much more money BP and the other companies involved in the Macondo drilling project owe for their roles in the disaster.