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Misread Pressure Test Cited by BP in Oil Spill Probe

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The failure of BP engineers to correctly interpret a pressure test conducted the day of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion was at least partially to blame for the worst oil spill in US history, according to an internal BP report.

According to Bloomberg News, the 200-page internal BP report was compiled by a team of BP investigators led by the company’s head of safety and operations. In addition to blaming BP engineers, it also faults Transocean Ltd., the owner of the rig, for the disaster.

A person familiar with the internal BP report told Bloomberg that pressure data from the April 20 test indicated a blowout was imminent. But because it was misinterpreted, workers aboard the rig began replacing drilling fluid in the well with seawater, a substance that was too light to prevent natural gas that was already leaking into the well from shooting up the well pipe to the rig.

That same day, the rig exploded, killing 11 workers.

According to Bloomberg, one of the managers in charge of interpreting the test data on the well was put on administrative leave pending the results of BP’s internal investigation. Other workers also have been put on leave.

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