Investigation: Rule change helped BP on Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico project
A rule change two years ago by the federal agency that regulates offshore oil rigs allowed BP to avoid filing a plan for handling a major spill from a blowout at its Deepwater Horizon project — exactly the kind of disaster now unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico.
Oil rig operators generally are required to submit a detailed "blowout scenario." But the federal Minerals Management Service issued a notice in 2008 that exempted some drilling projects in the Gulf under certain conditions.
BP met those conditions, according to MMS, and as a result, the oil company had no plan written for the Deepwater Horizon project, an Associated Press review found.
In a series of interviews, BP spokesman William Salvin insisted the company was nevertheless prepared to handle a blowout because it had a 582-page regional plan for dealing with a catastrophic spill anywhere in the central Gulf.
"We have a plan that has sufficient detail in it to deal with a blowout," Salvin said.
MMS has long been criticized as too cozy with the industry it regulates.
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