BP's Use of Flawed Cement Shows Need for Robust Oversight, Says NRDC

WASHINGTON (October 28, 2010) -- Weeks before the BP oil blowout, the company had lab tests showing the cement being poured at the site was unstable, the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling reported Thursday.

NRDC Executive Director Peter Lehner issued the following statement:

“A sound cement job is absolutely vital to a safe offshore well. This was a red flag. The lab tests signaled that the cement couldn't be relied on to provide a safe seal. Ignoring that warning put workers and habitat at increased risk.

“Eleven men paid with their lives. Two hundred million gallons of toxic crude oil poisoned the Gulf of Mexico. And residents of five Gulf Coast states have seen their entire way of life put in jeopardy.

“This is especially troubling because BP cancelled a crucial test of the cement job on the morning of April 20. The blowout occurred that night. That test - called a cement bond log - could have identified cement problems that might have contributed to the blowout.

“To have scrubbed the test was inexcusable. To have done so despite lab evidence that the cement was unstable shows how badly this industry needs robust and independent oversight. We must strengthen the safeguards needed to prevent this from ever happening again.

“The Department of Interior's new drilling rule is a step in the right direction. It specifically addresses cement operations and requires that the final cement job be tested - the step BP skipped to cut costs. There are similar safeguards in legislation the House passed last summer. Now the Senate must pass a companion bill to give needed protections the force of law.

“The commission's findings are the latest reminder of the inherent dangers of searching for oil in deeper and riskier waters. Ultimately, we must break our addiction to oil and begin moving the country toward safer, cleaner, more sustainable sources of power and fuel. That is the only way to ensure this kind of catastrophe won't happen again.”

NRDC Executive Director Peter Lehner is co-author of "In Deep Water: The Anatomy of a Disaster, the Fate of the Gulf, and Ending Our Oil Addiction."