Thursday, June 24, 2010

BP Probes

The list of investigations into the BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe includes:

BP Internal Investigation

BP has 70 people in its investigative team. In the 2005 Texas City refinery accident, which killed 15 people, BP had a list of terms internal investigators were not to use.

Justice Department

The Justice Department launched a criminal investigation into the accident. Defending BP are Jamie Gorelick and Mark Filip, prior Deputy Attorney Generals.

Coast Guard-Homeland Security & Minerals Management-Interior Department

This is a joint investigation. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's 30 day report bailed on investigating causes of the blowout. Testimony under this investigation could have criminal implications. However, it's not clear how the various investigations will collaborate or overlap.

U.S. Chemical Safety Board

This independent commission investigates industrial accidents involving chemicals. It investigated BP's Texas City refinery explosion without ever interviewing BP President Lord John Browne.

President's National Oil Spew Commission
The charge for this commission continues evolving in the media. President Obama started off with a thorough investigation of causes. The White House shifted to focusing on government's cozy relationship with the oil industry. Bloomberg cited it would "review safety procedures." Two Oil Spew Commissioners, William Reilly and Fran Ulmer, have significant organizational ties to BP.

Congressional Investigations

Congressional hearings can be good political theater, but frequently push critical information off stage. CEO Tony Hayward's testimony reflected BP's corporate risk management priorities. I expect that to continue.

Let's hope the lot is better than conflicted Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's 30 day report. Which group is studying the impact of toxins?

Update: Transocean is conducting an internal investigation and civil lawsuits will eventually serve an investigative function. Civil suits in the BP Texas City refinery explosion took years. BP CEO Lord John Browne was deposed three years after the accident. He noted the deposition was his first interview with authorities on the accident.

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