U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier is overseeing the oil spill multidistrict litigation
NEW ORLEANS (Legal Newsline) - Oil giant BP has sued Transocean, the owner and operator of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, seeking at least $40 billion in damages.
BP, in a crossclaim filed Wednesday, says it brought the action to hold the rig owner "accountable for having caused the blowout, explosion, fire, deaths and personal injuries, and subsequent oil spill."
"But for Transocean's improper conduct, errors, omissions, and violations of maritime law, there would not have been any blowout of the exploratory well in Mississippi Canyon, Block 252 (MC252, commonly referred to as the Macondo prospect)," the oil company wrote in its complaint.
Wednesday was the first anniversary of the explosion and fire that occurred on Deepwater Horizon, which was licensed to BP. The disaster killed 11 workers and resulted in the largest offshore spill in U.S. history.
It also was the last day anyone who suffered an injury or financial loss because of the spill could join a federal lawsuit against Transocean.
In BP's 33-page court filing, the company says "the simple fact" is that on April 20, 2010, "every single safety system and device and well control procedure on the Deepwater Horizon failed, resulting in the casualty."
BP alleges Transocean was negligent in:
- Failing to properly operate the Deepwater Horizon;
- Operating the Deepwater Horizon in such a manner that explosions and a fire occurred onboard, causing it to sink and resulting in the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico;
- Failing to properly inspect the Deepwater Horizon to assure that its equipment and personnel were fit for their intended purposes;
- Failing to properly assess the risk of failure of key safety and emergency equipment;
- Acting in a careless and negligent manner without due regard for the safety of others;
- Failing to implement and enforce rules and regulations pertaining to the safe operations of the Deepwater Horizon which, if they had been so implemented and enforced, would have averted the blowout, explosions, fire, personal injuries, deaths, sinking, and spill;
- Operating the Deepwater Horizon with untrained or insufficiently trained personnel;
- Negligently hiring, retaining and/or training personnel;
- Failing to take appropriate action to avoid or mitigate the incident;
- Negligently implementing or failing to implement policies and procedures to safely conduct offshore operations in the Gulf of Mexico;
- Failing to warn in a timely manner;
- Failing to timely bring the well and oil release under control;
- Failing to provide appropriate accident prevention equipment;
- Failing to observe and read gauges that would have indicated excessive pressures in the well;
- Failing to properly and timely control the well;
- Failing to properly and timely activate emergency and safety equipment; and
- Failing to react to danger signs.
In a statement to The Associated Press, Transocean called BP's lawsuit "desperate," "specious" and "unconscionable."
To protect its rights, Transocean said on its website that it has filed crossclaims against BP entities and other parties involved in the Macondo well incident.
Also on Wednesday, BP filed suits against Halliburton Co., which provided cementing and mud logging services, and Cameron International Corp., the maker of the rig's blowout preventer.
In its 48-page crossclaim against Halliburton, BP says it designed and pumped a cement slurry into the Macondo well that was "unstable" and "unlikely to isolate the hydrocarbons."
"Halliburton could not have caused the resulting damage without concealing from BP material facts and expert opinions about its cement slurry, including its properties, weaknesses, and its likelihood of failure," BP wrote.
"This concealment by Halliburton from BP of material facts about its cement slurry began before the cement job and continued after the cement job, after the explosion occurred, and even as BP was drilling a relief well to stop oil from flowing into the Gulf of Mexico."
It also failed to monitor the well during "critical operations" on the evening of April 20, 2010, BP says.
"Halliburton's intentional misstatement of material facts to BP, combined with its intentional concealment of material information and data from BP -- both before and after the explosion -- caused significant injuries to BP as well as to other third parties. As a direct result of Halliburton's improper conduct, the Macondo well blew out," the oil company wrote.
BP says Cameron's blowout preventer, along with the maintenance and modification of the device, did not meet standards of a "reasonable manufacturer and service provider, resulting in a (blowout preventer) that failed to properly operate when needed and was unreasonably dangerous when used as intended."
Blowout preventers are considered critical safety devices and are attached to the wellhead. It allows the well to be sealed to confine the well fluids in the wellbore if unexpected flows of hydrocarbons from the reservoir into the wellbore, known as "kicks," are encountered.
In its 22-page crossclaim against the company, BP says Cameron's design, production and negligent conduct was a cause "in whole or in part" of the blowout of the well and the ensuing oil spill.
All three complaints were filed in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana.
Those attorneys for BP Exploration & Production Inc. include Don K. Haycraft and R. Keith Jarrett of Liskow & Lewis in New Orleans, Richard C. Godfrey and J. Andrew Langan of Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Chicago, and Robert C. "Mike" Brock of Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, D.C.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.