Report: Oil Rig Co. Had Issues at 3 More Wells

Offshore Oil Rig
AP
Transocean, the company that owned the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April, had serious concerns about safety issues at three other rigs in the region.

According to the New York Times, Transocean had commissioned a risk assessment investigation in March into the Deepwater Horizon and three rigs in the gulf.

Special Section: Disaster in the Gulf

The report shows that there were problems with the Deepwater Horizon's ballast system, which is responsible for keeping it afloat. It's been suggested that the massive oil spill might not have occurred if the rig had not sunk.

Federal records also show that Transocean had to evacuate the Deepwater Horizon in May of 2008, after problems with the ballast system flooded part of the rig, causing it to list to its side.

There were also issues with the Deepwater Horizon's equipment, which had dozens of deficiencies, including some related to the blowout preventer. Problems were found on "critical equipment items that may lead to loss of life, serious injury or environmental damage as a result of inadequate use and/or failure of equipment," the Times cites the report as saying.

The report also suggested that workers and supervisors were not experienced enough, and some crew members accused bureaucratic managers of systematically delaying maintenance to save money. The Times quoted a worker who said: "Unless it's a sink that needs fixing it isn't getting fixed. They won't send the rig to the shipyard for major refurb that is required in certain areas."

Other workers expressed fears of reprisals for reporting problems.

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Transocean has 14 rigs operating in the Gulf of Mexico and 139 worldwide. It is the world's largest offshore drilling company.

The report investigated the company's Development Driller II, the Marianas, the Discoverer Clear Leaders, and the Deepwater Horizon. The Development Driller II is being leased by BP to drill one of the relief wells near the Deepwater Horizon site.

According to the Times, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, said: "These documents are more evidence that despite the growing count of worker deaths and safety violations, the oil and gas industry still just doesn't get it. They need to change their worker-safety culture, and I am pretty sure we can't count on them to do it by themselves."

More on Transocean:

"BP Squad" Assembles to Probe Oil Spill Crimes
Alarms on Oil Rig Partly Disabled before Blast
Report: Gulf Rig Workers Had Big Safety Concerns