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Topics: Second week of BP oil spill trial focuses on gross negligence, Engineer who did forensic analysis of blowout preventer continues testimony in BP Gulf oil spill trial, Oil Executives, Experts Testify As 2010 Spill Trial Continues, BP trial could mean money for state, BP Warns of Rising Costs From Spill Settlement

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The investigative reports about the Deepwater Horizon/Macondo horror show have listed staggering numbers of incidents where basic drilling safety was ignored. One would expect that the regulatory agency in charge of deepwater drilling would have truckloads of paperwork documenting such egregious behavior backed up with regulatory witnesses to testify as to how horrific BP's safety record was.

But, no. Not a single regulator has testified against BP in the trial.

There is no logical way to get to the point of thinking that any good will ever come of having a "just pretend" regulatory agency being responsible for the horrendously technically complex work of deepwater drilling. The frightening truth seems to be that big oil is free to operate as irresponsibly as they so desire with not so much of a peep of protest coming from the government agency tasked with overseeing the safety of the industry.

Second week of BP oil spill trial focuses on gross negligence

March 08, 2013 at 6:43 PM, updated March 09, 2013 at 5:35 PM Print

In the second week of the BP oil spill trial in New Orleans, lawyers for the Plaintiffs Steering Committee and the Justice Department continued to plod through a long list of witnesses called to back up their contention that BP committed gross negligence and willful misconduct in actions before, during and after the blowout of its Macondo oil well nearly three years ago.

At times, the steering committee, representing private plaintiffs in the hundreds of lawsuits consolidated in the trial, also tried to show that the actions of BP's contractors, Transocean and Halliburton, also went beyond the level of simple negligence. BP agreed to assign any claims for damages the company might have with Transocean and Halliburton to the steering committee as part of an estimated $8.5 billion settlement of most private claims.

Thus far, BP's strategy has included aggressively disputing witnesses' claims about specific errors during cross-examinations, attempting to get those witnesses to focus the cause of the errors on Transocean or Halliburton, and trying to prove that the errors resulted from following the industry's standard drilling practices.
...
Testimony during the second week included several expert witnesses discussing key aspects of the drilling process, including their theories for why the blowout preventer and the cement designed to seal the well failed to block the flow of oil and gas to the deck of the Deepwater Horizon, where it exploded, setting the rig on fire and precipitating one of the nation's largest environmental disasters.

The witnesses were academics or independent experts from the oil and gas industry. No federal officials who may have had oversight over drilling, including inspectors for the Interior Department's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, have been called by the Justice Department or the steering committee.

Blaine LeCesne, a tort law professor at Loyola University, said Thursday's testimony from cementing expert Glen Benge was "very important" in demonstrating several missteps that occurred with the cementing job in the weeks and days leading to the Macondo well blowout.

Those missteps, LeCesne said, could add up, and "ultimately result in the finding of gross negligence."

LeCesne also pointed to testimony that BP chose to use only six centralizers, rather than the 21 recommended by Halliburton engineers, to assure that the lengthy segment of pipe in the well stayed in the center so cement could flow evenly around it. That is "a major issue and a major defect in the design and construction of that well."

Jesse Gagliano, a Halliburton technical adviser who worked in the same office in Houston with the BP engineers, warned his clients that day that if the tube wasn't centered, cement poured in the hole could go toward the wider side, leaving a weaker barrier on the opposite side.

BP engineer Brian Morel responded: "Hopefully the pipe stays centralized due to gravity."

Benge testified that Gagliano's concerns were justified, and that the hydrocarbons likely broke through the poorly mixed cement at the bottom of the well and may have used channels formed by mud on the narrow side of the pipe to reach the surface.

On Friday, LeCesne called that e-mail "probably one of the most remarkable statements of anyone in this whole saga, that an engineer would say that."

On Monday, the trial continues with additional cross-examination of Davis about the blowout preventer. He is likely to be followed by Tim Probert, Halliburton's president for strategy and corporate development.

Second week of BP oil spill trial focuses on gross negligence | NOLA.com

March 08, 2013 at 6:43 PM, updated March 09, 2013 at 5:35 PM Print

In the second week of the BP oil spill trial in New Orleans, lawyers for the Plaintiffs Steering Committee and the Justice Department continued to plod through a long list of witnesses called to back up their contention that BP committed gross negligence and willful misconduct in actions before, during and after the blowout of its Macondo oil well nearly three years ago.

At times, the steering committee, representing private plaintiffs in the hundreds of lawsuits consolidated in the trial, also tried to show that the actions of BP's contractors, Transocean and Halliburton, also went beyond the level of simple negligence. BP agreed to assign any claims for damages the company might have with Transocean and Halliburton to the steering committee as part of an estimated $8.5 billion settlement of most private claims.

The pay-off for this dual strategy could mean BP has to pay billions more in Clean Water Act fines and U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier Jr., who is trying the case without a jury, could make the other companies pay punitive damages to the private plaintiffs.

Thus far, BP's strategy has included aggressively disputing witnesses' claims about specific errors during cross-examinations, attempting to get those witnesses to focus the cause of the errors on Transocean or Halliburton, and trying to prove that the errors resulted from following the industry's standard drilling practices.

BP attorneys also have repeatedly stressed that Barbier must weigh the evidence in the case against the federal laws involved and against previous rulings by him, other district court judges, the appeals courts and the Supreme Court. They estimate that will result in BP paying no more than a third of the maximum fines allowed under law.

Witnesses called during the first week of the trial largely focused on general safety standards developed by BP and whether the company followed them or made its contractors follow them.

Testimony during the second week included several expert witnesses discussing key aspects of the drilling process, including their theories for why the blowout preventer and the cement designed to seal the well failed to block the flow of oil and gas to the deck of the Deepwater Horizon, where it exploded, setting the rig on fire and precipitating one of the nation's largest environmental disasters.

The witnesses were academics or independent experts from the oil and gas industry. No federal officials who may have had oversight over drilling, including inspectors for the Interior Department's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, have been called by the Justice Department or the steering committee.

Blaine LeCesne, a tort law professor at Loyola University, said Thursday's testimony from cementing expert Glen Benge was "very important" in demonstrating several missteps that occurred with the cementing job in the weeks and days leading to the Macondo well blowout.

Those missteps, LeCesne said, could add up, and "ultimately result in the finding of gross negligence."

The testimony showed that despite BP's efforts to shift some of the blame for the accident to its partners on the well, the company "was the ultimate arbiter of all final decisions regarding any further steps, investigation or preventative measures that needed to be taken in the face of certain anomalies that were raised" by cement test results.

Benge, an independent consultant on oil-field cementing, "was very effective, both in terms of putting out there the fact that BP was on notice as to the problems regarding the cement mixture, and that they were the final decision makers regarding the use of that cement job," he said.

LeCesne also pointed to testimony that BP chose to use only six centralizers, rather than the 21 recommended by Halliburton engineers, to assure that the lengthy segment of pipe in the well stayed in the center so cement could flow evenly around it. That is "a major issue and a major defect in the design and construction of that well."

Jesse Gagliano, a Halliburton technical adviser who worked in the same office in Houston with the BP engineers, warned his clients that day that if the tube wasn't centered, cement poured in the hole could go toward the wider side, leaving a weaker barrier on the opposite side.

BP engineer Brian Morel responded: "Hopefully the pipe stays centralized due to gravity."

Benge testified that Gagliano's concerns were justified, and that the hydrocarbons likely broke through the poorly mixed cement at the bottom of the well and may have used channels formed by mud on the narrow side of the pipe to reach the surface.

On Friday, LeCesne called that e-mail "probably one of the most remarkable statements of anyone in this whole saga, that an engineer would say that."

"I think that's the most telling moment of this whole week, and I think you're going to find ultimately the failure to use those additional 13 centralizers is going to come back to haunt BP in terms of a contributing cause to the blowout."

BP and its contractors will place their own expert witnesses on the stand during this first phase of the liability trial, which is expected to last until mid-May.

Barbier also must sift through a wealth of other information beyond the testimony of witnesses during the trial, including lengthy written reports by expert witnesses, and excerpts from pre-trial depositions of several hundred other witnesses that are being introduced into evidence, even though they won't testify in the trial.

On Monday, the trial continues with additional cross-examination of Davis about the blowout preventer. He is likely to be followed by Tim Probert, Halliburton's president for strategy and corporate development.




More fallout from the idiocy surrounding the blowout preventer (BOP) autopsy. I can't recall reading about Talas Engineering nor the fact that someone without any experience with blowout preventers was allowed access. The captive Department of the Interior did BP a huge favor.

At the time of the autopsy Interior fought like a cornered rattler to keep the non-captive, highly qualified Chemical Safety Board from having access to the blowout preventer among other egregious behavior discussed in this Gulf Watchers diary. Unlike Mr. Davis, the Chemical Safety Board could have easily provided unimpeachable witnesses.

There is no mention of any rehabilitation of Mr. Davis's expert credentials on the part of the Department of Justice. It looks like BP and its lapdog, the Department of Interior won this round.

Engineer who did forensic analysis of blowout preventer continues testimony in BP Gulf oil spill trial

March 11, 2013 at 12:45 PM, updated March 11, 2013 at 2:54 PM Print

BP oil spill trial: Blowout preventer on Macondo well had dead battery, miswired solenoid, expert testifies

An engineer who helped conduct a forensic analysis of the Deepwater Horizon's blowout preventer for the Department of Justice continued his testimony Monday in the BP oil spill trial.

Rory Davis, who was on a team of engineers put together by the California-based Talas Engineering, first took the stand on Thursday and was cross-examined by BP attorneys Monday. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier is trying the complex civil case without a jury to assign liability for the accident.

Davis has acknowledged that he had never seen a blowout preventer before beginning his investigation, and had never worked in the oil and gas industry. His mechanical engineering background includes work on everything from motorcycles to rocket engines.

He also testified last week that two days after the accident, on April 22, 2010, another automatic process, called an autoshear, triggered a blind shear ram in the blowout preventer to close when it automatically determined that the riser pipe connecting the well to the sinking drilling rig had become disconnected.

Davis said a different version of the shear ram, with two diagonal blades, could have cut through the pipe using less pressure, which could have closed off the pipe and prevented oil and gas from spewing from the well. However, Davis testified Monday that federal regulators had approved the use of that blowout preventer on the Deepwater Horizon rig to drill the Macondo well.

During cross-examination by BP attorney Hariklia "Carrie" Karis, Davis said it was Transocean's responsibility to maintain the blowout preventer. He said the battery in one control pod on the preventer was dead, and contended that the battery failure could have been prevented by having a system in place that monitored its power.

In his expert report submitted on behalf of the Justice Department, Davis said two other blind shear models could have been used in the blowout preventer.

Davis is likely to be followed on the stand by Tim Probert, Halliburton's president for strategy and corporate development.

Probert, during the 2010 joint hearings by the US Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, asserted that the company's work was finished "in accordance with the requirements" set out by BP and with accepted industry practices.




It is always infuriateng to read all about all of the poor decisions on the Deepwater Horizon that lead to such a horrific nightmare. If any one of the serious safety issues had been addressed the tragedy could have been very likely avoided.

Equally disturbing is the fact that the National Academy of Engineers pretty much said in so many words that ignoring the poor results from the negative pressure test was a mistake one would not even expect a drilling rookie to make. It seems that no one is bothering to understand, let alone addressing, the problem of why highly experience rig bosses would make such a stupid decision that was flat-out suicidal. I fear our ignorance about this issue may be condemning us to repeat performances.  h/t Yasuragi
Susan Buchanan: Oil Executives, Experts Testify As 2010 Spill Trial Continues

Posted: 03/09/2013 6:08 pm
(This article is published in "The Louisiana Weekly" in the March 11, 2013 edition.)

In the second week of a milestone spill trial at U.S. District Court in New Orleans, oil experts last week spoke about the technical and physical challenges inherent in deepwater drilling.
...
On Monday, attorneys for Transocean, Halliburton and Cameron continued to cross-examine Mark Bly, BP's group head of safety and operations, from the previous week. Bly was asked about an April 20, 2010 phone conversation between BP's onshore drilling engineer Mark Hafle and Don Vidrine, a BP well site leader on the Deepwater Horizon, less than 50 minutes before the rig exploded.

They discussed an abnormality--a discrepancy between 1,400 pounds of pressure on the drill pipe and zero pounds of pressure on the kill line. That meant that a negative pressure test done the same day and interpreted as okay wasn't successful. The test, a shared responsibility of BP and Transocean, was conducted to see if cementing had sealed leaks in the well.

The conversation between Hafle and Vidrine wasn't included in BP's Sept. 10, 2010 assessment of the accident, known as the Bly report. Bly was asked if he had avoided casting blame on BP's onshore staff in the report. He responded that his intention was "to understand what had happened and what allowed it to happen."

Bly testified that BP's onshore engineers had access to real-time mudlog and other data from the rig on computer screens in their offices.

Bly was asked about his testimony, from the week before, about BP's lack of access to Transocean and Halliburton employees for interviews as having hampered BP's post-accident investigation. Bly said Monday "I think I said we had access to some of the Halliburton folks, but none of the Transocean folks."

As for the quality of Halliburton's cement job, an April 20, 2010 email from BP drilling engineer Brian Morel to others at BP, including drilling team leader Greg Walz, drilling engineer Mark Hafle and wells team leader John Guide, was displayed in the courtroom. The message said "just wanted to let know you that the Halliburton cement team they sent out did a great job."

Bly was questioned about why, in preparation for a cement job to close up the well, BP decided to use only six "centralizers," which were needed to ensure that the casing ran down the center of the well bore, when Halliburton recommended using 21 centralizers.

Bly was also asked whether a severe well-control event was under way when efforts were made to activate the blowout preventer or BOP. He answered "in hindsight, it certainly appears to have been."

Between the time the well started to flow on April 20, 2010 and anyone tried to activate the BOP, fifty minutes had elapsed and hydrocarbons were rushing to the surface.

On Monday, geoscience professor Andrew Hurst at the University of Aberdeen, a geologist who worked for Statoil and Unocal, testified that rocks in the Mississippi Submarine Canyon area--where the Macondo well was located--are more fragile than elsewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. Earthquakes occur in the Mississippi Canyon but don't in other parts of the GOM. He discussed two quakes in the canyon in 2006, one of 5.2 magnitude in February, followed by another in April of magnitude 6. The April quake occurred three years before the Macondo well was drilled, and may have destroyed rocks 15,000 to 20,000 feet below sea level, he said.

"In the Mississippi Submarine Canyon, the leak-off pressures are so low, the rocks are so fragile that they're going to require extreme caution when designing drilling programs," Hurst said. Leak-off pressure values are measurements of the maximum drilling mud pressure a well can tolerate before it fractures.

Hurst said Monday that the Macondo well fractured because rocks around the borehole wall disintegrated.

Pore pressure refers to pressure exerted by oil and gas in an underground formation. "And it's pore pressure that we need to be able to predict, so we can understand where and when we're going to locate pockets of high pressure during the drilling of a well or when we go into a reservoir," he said.

But Hurst said it didn't appear that BP used temperature as a predictor of pore pressure in the Macondo well. "They use principles which are actually well known not to be particularly successful and even very, very difficult to make predictions" with, he said.

Transocean's senior toolpusher on the Deepwater Horizon, Miles Ezell, with 33 years of oilfield experience, testified Monday and Tuesday. He saved the lives of Transocean employees Wyman Wheeler and Buddy Trahan on April 20, 2010, and the three escaped on a life raft to the offshore vessel Damon Bankston. Ezell testified that Jason Anderson, who he referred to as a top-notch, senior toolpusher, and others on the rig--including BP supervisors--misjudged the results of the negative pressure test done that day.

But, he said, BP's well site leaders on the rig were responsible for deciding how such tests were performed and for interpreting results.

Anderson was one of the workers who died on the rig.
...
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Ronny Sepulvado, a BP well site leader, testified. When asked why the Macondo well was behind schedule, he said "they had another rig on the well and a storm came through and messed up some of the electrical equipment on it." That rig was removed. "Then they moved the Horizon on the well, and we had several lost circulation events during drilling. I think we took a kick during drilling. So we were behind." A kick is an entry of gas or fluid into the well, capable of causing a blowout.

When asked if BP adopted an "every dollar counts" culture on the Deepwater Horizon, Sepulvado said "yes, we did."
...
Also testifying Wednesday was Canadian drilling consultant Richard Heenan, a witness for the federal government. He spoke about the negative pressure test on April 20, 2010, and said "I couldn't believe that, given what they saw, people on the rig came to the conclusion it was a successful test."

On Wednesday and Thursday, federal expert witness Glen Benge, an oil-field cement consultant with 36 years of experience, said testing done by Halliburton on its cement mixture up to April 17, 2010 showed "anomalous" or problematic results. Those results should have been examined to see if the slurry needed to be redesigned. BP was the final decision maker on using the cement job, he said. Though BP knew of problems with the cement mixture, it was not redesigned.

Moreover, BP's decision to use six centralizers, rather than 21 advised by Halliburton, left a narrow space around a side of the drill pipe, Benge said. Cement pumped around the pipe couldn't fill the slim side, leaving a channel which filled with drilling mud and allowing hydrocarbons to travel to the surface.

Cement pumped into the Macondo well on April 19, 2010 had not hardened when a negative pressure test was run the next day, Benge also said.

Federal expert witness Rory Davis, a Ph.D. mechanical engineer, testified Friday that lack of maintenance to the blowout preventer, including batteries not being replaced, contributed to the BOP's failure. A BOP is a large, mechanical device, used to control and seal wells. BP was aware of these maintenance issues, he said.
...




It is always infuriating to read all about all of the poor decisions on the Deepwater Horizon that lead to such a horrific nightmare. If any one of the serious safety issues had been addressed the tragedy could have been very likely avoided.

Equally disturbing is the fact that the National Academy of Engineers pretty much said in so many words that ignoring the poor results from the negative pressure test was a mistake one would not even expect a drilling rookie to make. It seems that no one is bothering to understand, let alone addressing, the problem of why highly experience rig bosses would make such a stupid decision that was flat-out suicidal. I fear our ignorance about this issue may be condemning us to repeat performances.  h/t Yasuragi
Susan Buchanan: Oil Executives, Experts Testify As 2010 Spill Trial Continues

Posted: 03/09/2013 6:08 pm
(This article is published in "The Louisiana Weekly" in the March 11, 2013 edition.)

In the second week of a milestone spill trial at U.S. District Court in New Orleans, oil experts last week spoke about the technical and physical challenges inherent in deepwater drilling.
...
On Monday, attorneys for Transocean, Halliburton and Cameron continued to cross-examine Mark Bly, BP's group head of safety and operations, from the previous week. Bly was asked about an April 20, 2010 phone conversation between BP's onshore drilling engineer Mark Hafle and Don Vidrine, a BP well site leader on the Deepwater Horizon, less than 50 minutes before the rig exploded.

They discussed an abnormality--a discrepancy between 1,400 pounds of pressure on the drill pipe and zero pounds of pressure on the kill line. That meant that a negative pressure test done the same day and interpreted as okay wasn't successful. The test, a shared responsibility of BP and Transocean, was conducted to see if cementing had sealed leaks in the well.

The conversation between Hafle and Vidrine wasn't included in BP's Sept. 10, 2010 assessment of the accident, known as the Bly report. Bly was asked if he had avoided casting blame on BP's onshore staff in the report. He responded that his intention was "to understand what had happened and what allowed it to happen."

Bly testified that BP's onshore engineers had access to real-time mudlog and other data from the rig on computer screens in their offices.

Bly was asked about his testimony, from the week before, about BP's lack of access to Transocean and Halliburton employees for interviews as having hampered BP's post-accident investigation. Bly said Monday "I think I said we had access to some of the Halliburton folks, but none of the Transocean folks."

As for the quality of Halliburton's cement job, an April 20, 2010 email from BP drilling engineer Brian Morel to others at BP, including drilling team leader Greg Walz, drilling engineer Mark Hafle and wells team leader John Guide, was displayed in the courtroom. The message said "just wanted to let know you that the Halliburton cement team they sent out did a great job."

Bly was questioned about why, in preparation for a cement job to close up the well, BP decided to use only six "centralizers," which were needed to ensure that the casing ran down the center of the well bore, when Halliburton recommended using 21 centralizers.

Bly was also asked whether a severe well-control event was under way when efforts were made to activate the blowout preventer or BOP. He answered "in hindsight, it certainly appears to have been."

Between the time the well started to flow on April 20, 2010 and anyone tried to activate the BOP, fifty minutes had elapsed and hydrocarbons were rushing to the surface.

On Monday, geoscience professor Andrew Hurst at the University of Aberdeen, a geologist who worked for Statoil and Unocal, testified that rocks in the Mississippi Submarine Canyon area--where the Macondo well was located--are more fragile than elsewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. Earthquakes occur in the Mississippi Canyon but don't in other parts of the GOM. He discussed two quakes in the canyon in 2006, one of 5.2 magnitude in February, followed by another in April of magnitude 6. The April quake occurred three years before the Macondo well was drilled, and may have destroyed rocks 15,000 to 20,000 feet below sea level, he said.

"In the Mississippi Submarine Canyon, the leak-off pressures are so low, the rocks are so fragile that they're going to require extreme caution when designing drilling programs," Hurst said. Leak-off pressure values are measurements of the maximum drilling mud pressure a well can tolerate before it fractures.

Hurst said Monday that the Macondo well fractured because rocks around the borehole wall disintegrated.

Pore pressure refers to pressure exerted by oil and gas in an underground formation. "And it's pore pressure that we need to be able to predict, so we can understand where and when we're going to locate pockets of high pressure during the drilling of a well or when we go into a reservoir," he said.

But Hurst said it didn't appear that BP used temperature as a predictor of pore pressure in the Macondo well. "They use principles which are actually well known not to be particularly successful and even very, very difficult to make predictions" with, he said.

Transocean's senior toolpusher on the Deepwater Horizon, Miles Ezell, with 33 years of oilfield experience, testified Monday and Tuesday. He saved the lives of Transocean employees Wyman Wheeler and Buddy Trahan on April 20, 2010, and the three escaped on a life raft to the offshore vessel Damon Bankston. Ezell testified that Jason Anderson, who he referred to as a top-notch, senior toolpusher, and others on the rig--including BP supervisors--misjudged the results of the negative pressure test done that day.

But, he said, BP's well site leaders on the rig were responsible for deciding how such tests were performed and for interpreting results.

Anderson was one of the workers who died on the rig.
...
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Ronny Sepulvado, a BP well site leader, testified. When asked why the Macondo well was behind schedule, he said "they had another rig on the well and a storm came through and messed up some of the electrical equipment on it." That rig was removed. "Then they moved the Horizon on the well, and we had several lost circulation events during drilling. I think we took a kick during drilling. So we were behind." A kick is an entry of gas or fluid into the well, capable of causing a blowout.

When asked if BP adopted an "every dollar counts" culture on the Deepwater Horizon, Sepulvado said "yes, we did."
...
Also testifying Wednesday was Canadian drilling consultant Richard Heenan, a witness for the federal government. He spoke about the negative pressure test on April 20, 2010, and said "I couldn't believe that, given what they saw, people on the rig came to the conclusion it was a successful test."

On Wednesday and Thursday, federal expert witness Glen Benge, an oil-field cement consultant with 36 years of experience, said testing done by Halliburton on its cement mixture up to April 17, 2010 showed "anomalous" or problematic results. Those results should have been examined to see if the slurry needed to be redesigned. BP was the final decision maker on using the cement job, he said. Though BP knew of problems with the cement mixture, it was not redesigned.

Moreover, BP's decision to use six centralizers, rather than 21 advised by Halliburton, left a narrow space around a side of the drill pipe, Benge said. Cement pumped around the pipe couldn't fill the slim side, leaving a channel which filled with drilling mud and allowing hydrocarbons to travel to the surface.

Cement pumped into the Macondo well on April 19, 2010 had not hardened when a negative pressure test was run the next day, Benge also said.

Federal expert witness Rory Davis, a Ph.D. mechanical engineer, testified Friday that lack of maintenance to the blowout preventer, including batteries not being replaced, contributed to the BOP's failure. A BOP is a large, mechanical device, used to control and seal wells. BP was aware of these maintenance issues, he said.
...




It's sad to see that Alabama does not plan on setting aside any funds they might receive from the current BP trial to help either the environment or its residents who suffered harm.

I'm not sure why exactly legal experts believe that the trial is going BP's way because it is a bench trial and one ruling went in BP's favor. The big issue is gross negligence and there doesn't seem to be any shortage of evidence that BP set new standards for effort in leaping over that high bar with plenty of room to spare.

BP trial could mean money for state | The Selma Times‑Journal

Published 7:11pm Monday, March 11, 2013

The much anticipated BP trial began Feb. 25 in New Orleans. British Petroleum faces billions of dollars in civil claims from the 2010 oil spill.

Alabama will reap a bonanza, which will go primarily to our beleaguered General Fund. To his credit, Attorney General Luther Strange has taken the helm of the legal battle rather than farming it out to expensive trial lawyers or political cronies as has been done by past AGs.
...
The case is not being decided by a jury. It is a bench trial presided over by Louisiana U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier. This favors BP. Although Strange did a good job in his opening arguments, BP won a key victory early when Barbier ruled that the oil company should not have to pay damages on oil recovered from the oil site. That automatically reduces BP’s exposure by about $3.5 billion.

Private plaintiff attorneys and U.S. Justice Department attorneys are hammering the company with the consistent argument that they put profits over safety. Most legal experts are surprised that BP has not settled even as the case evolves in its favor. Even though it is a bench trial and the “gross negligence” bar is high, the experts believe the risk of the judge ruling that gross negligence has occurred would be catastrophic for BP.

In addition to this $4 billion manslaughter criminal penalty, BP has racked up more than $24 billion in spill related expenses. Although most experts believe the bench trial favors BP, Alabama’s veteran leading plaintiff attorney, Jere Beasley, says there is an upside to a bench trial.

“The big difference is you only have to prove your case to one person instead of 12 so you can focus on him. The other way, if you miss one juror, you are in big trouble.” We will see.




Predictably, BP is whining like a toddler in need of a nap that the terms they agreed to aren't fair. Judge Barbier is having none of it.

The decibel level of BP's kvetching about the settlement should, in no way, be taken as any sort of indication that the victims are being treated fairly. BP will throw hissy fits about the money paid even if the victims are being shortchanged to the point of abuse.

BP Warns of Rising Costs From Spill Settlement

March 08, 2013

(NEW ORLEANS) — BP is warning investors that the price tag will be “significantly higher” than it initially estimated for its multibillion-dollar settlement with businesses and residents who claim the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico cost them money.

The London-based oil giant estimated last year that it would spend roughly $7.8 billion to resolve tens of thousands of claims covered by the settlement agreement. But in a regulatory filing this week, BP PLC said businesses’ claims have been paid at much higher average amounts than it had anticipated.

The company also said it can’t reliably estimate how much it will pay for unresolved business claims following a ruling Tuesday by the federal judge supervising the uncapped settlement. U.S District Judge Carl Barbier rejected BP’s interpretation of certain settlement provisions.

Barbier upheld claims administrator Patrick Juneau’s interpretation of settlement terms that govern how businesses’ pre- and post-spill revenue and expenses — and the time periods for those dollar amounts — are used to calculate their awards.

BP had argued that Juneau’s interpretation would lead to “absurd results” and “false positives,” but the judge said the settlement agreement anticipated that “such results would sometimes occur.”

“Objective formulas, the possibility of ‘false positives,’ and giving claimants flexibility to choose the most favorable time periods are all consequences BP accepted when it decided to buy peace through a global, class-wide resolution,” Barbier wrote.

In this week’s regulatory filing, the company said it has been analyzing the processing of recent claims to determine if they can be used to predict future claims, but concluded it can’t.
...

PLEASE visit Pam LaPier's diary to find out how you can help the Gulf now and in the future. We don't have to be idle! And thanks to Crashing Vor and Pam LaPier for working on this!
Previous Gulf Watcher diaries:
2-27-13 05:33 PM BP Drilled Despite Unsafe Conditions, and Tony Testifies - Gulf Watchers Special Edition Lorinda Pike
2-26-13 06:00 PM BP on Trial - Witness Says BP Obsession With Profit Caused Catastrophe - Gulf Watchers Tuesday Lorinda Pike
2-25-13 11:51 AM BP on Trial...Finally (With small update) - Gulf Watchers Special Edition Lorinda Pike
2-12-13 04:30 PM Gulf Watchers Tuesday - $34 billion in state/local claims against BP - BP Catastrophe AUV #605 peraspera
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Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

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