BP and Halliburton Knew Deepwater Disaster Cement Was Unstable, Report Says

Halliburton and BP knew the cement mixture used to seal the Macondo well, the one drilled during the Deepwater Rig explosion, was unreliable but used it anyway, according a new report from the presidential commission investigating the disaster.

The report, issued today, found that Halliburton had conducted three tests which showed that the cement didn't meet industry standards. The results of at least one of these tests was given to BP on March 8, over a month before the explosion. The panel's letter reads:

Halliburton and BP both had results in March showing that a very similar foam slurry design to the one actually pumped at the Macondo well would be unstable, but neither acted upon that data; and Halliburton (and perhaps BP) should have considered redesigning the foam slurry before pumping it at the Macondo well.

While Fred Bartlit Jr, the panel's lead investigator, said that the cement may not have been the primary cause of the explosion, he says that if the cement had been up to standards it would have prevented the disaster.

The president's commission obtained the cement recipe from Halliburton and handed it over to Chevron for testing. It failed nine separate stability tests in conditions simulating those of the Macondo well.

BP had pegged the cement as a primary cause of the disaster in an internal investigation, though Halliburton testified that it had done all requisite testing and that BP's faulty well design was to blame. Still, Bartlit says, the unstable cement is only one crucial link in a chain of negligence that lead to the blow-out. [Oil Spill Commission via NYT]