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Ex-BP rig supervisor testifies at Gulf spill trial

By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN Published: March 7, 2013

“No, ma'am,” Sepulvado said.

“And at any time did you ever ask anyone to cut any corners to save time or money?” she asked.

“No, ma'am,” he said.

Sepulvado said the rig crew reported its drilling costs on a daily basis and adhered to a BP mantra that “every dollar counts,” but not at the expense of safety.

“You don't waste money,” he said. “To me, it means better planning to try to get equipment in and out.”

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier is hearing testimony without a jury and, barring a settlement, would decide how much more money BP, rig owner Transocean and other companies owe for their roles in the disaster. BP could be on the hook for nearly $18 billion in penalties under the Clean Water Act if the judge finds that it acted with “gross negligence.”

Barbier also heard testimony Wednesday by drilling expert Richard Heenan, a witness for the federal government. Heenan said the pressure test that Kaluza and Vidrine are accused of botching marked a “gross and extreme departure from the standards of good oilfield practice.”

The conclusion by BP supervisors and Transocean crew members that the test was successful “lacked any justification based on the basic principles of well control or physics,” Heenan added.

Transocean attorney Michael Doyen noted that the test lasted at least two to three hours.

“You don't have any doubt that the guys on the rig were trying to get the test right?” Doyen asked.

“They would want to get it right,” Heenan said.

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