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June 2010 Congressional investigations[edit]

The United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce conducted a number of hearings.
On 30 April, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce asked Halliburton to brief it as well as
provide any documents it might have related to its work on the Macondo well. [31] Attention has
focused on the cementing procedure and the blowout preventer, which failed to fully engage.[32] A
number of significant problems were identified with the blowout preventer: There was a leak in
the hydraulic system that provides power to the shear rams. The underwater control panel had been
disconnected from the pipe ram, and instead connected to a test ram. The blowout preventer
schematic drawings, provided by Transocean to BP, did not correspond to the structure that was on
the ocean bottom. The shear rams were not designed to function on the joints where the drill pipes
were screwed together or on tools that were passed through the blowout preventer during well
construction. The explosion may have severed the communication line between the rig and the subsurface blowout preventer control unit such that the blowout preventer would have never received
the instruction to engage. Before the backup dead man's switch could engage, communications,
power and hydraulic lines must all be severed, but it is possible hydraulic lines were intact after the
explosion. Of the two control pods for the deadman switch, the one that was inspected had a dead
battery.[33] Employee Tyrone Benton told the BBC on 21 June that a leak was spotted on a crucial
piece of equipment in the oil rig's blowout preventer weeks before the accident, and that Transocean
and BP were emailed about it.[34]
According to the testimony of Doug Brown, the chief mechanic on the Deepwater Horizon, on 26
May at the joint U.S. Coast Guard and Minerals Management Service hearing, a BP representative
overruled Transocean employees and insisted on displacing protective drilling mud with seawater
just hours before the explosion.[35] One of the BP representatives on the board responsible for making
the final decision, Robert Kaluza, refused to testify on the Fifth Amendmentgrounds that he might
incriminate himself; Donald Vidrine, another BP representative, cited medical reasons for his inability
to testify, as did James Mansfield, Transocean's assistant marine engineer on board. [36][37][38]
On 17 June, Tony Hayward testified before the Committee. [39] The heads of Anadarko and Mitsui's
exploration unit will testify before the Committee 22 July.[40] In a statement made in June the
Committee noted that in a number of cases leading up to the explosion, BP appeared to have
chosen riskier procedures to save time or money, sometimes against the advice of its staff or
In an 18 June statement, Jim Hackett, the CEO of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, said research
"indicates BP operated unsafely and failed to monitor and react to several critical warning signs
during the drilling. ... BP's behavior and actions likely represent gross negligence or willful
misconduct."[42] BP responded by strongly disagreeing with the Anadarko statement and said that,
despite being contractually liable for sharing clean-up costs, Anadarko is "refusing to accept
responsibility for oil spill removal costs and damages". [43] BP has sent Anadarko a bill for
$272.2 million; Anadarko is "assessing our contractual remedies". [44]
According to the US Congressional investigation, the rig's blowout preventer, a fail-safe device fitted
at the base of the well, built by Cameron International Corporation, had a hydraulic leak and a failed
battery, and therefore failed.[45] On 19 August, Admiral Thad Allen ordered BP to keep the blowout
preventer to be used as evidence in any court actions.[46]
On 25 August, Harry Thierens, BP's vice president for drilling and completions, told the hearing that
he found that the blowout preventer was connected to a test pipe, rather than the one conveying oil
to the surface. He said that he was "frankly astonished that this could have happened." [47]