The Financial Times reported this morning that Anadarko, the U.S.-based company that owns 25 percent of the Deepwater Horizon’s lease, had a say in the rig’s design and got regular updates on its operation from BP.
The news could complicate Anadarko’s attempt to prove that BP caused the blowout by acting negligently. If Anadarko can prove gross negligence or willfull misconduct, it can get off the hook for its share of cleanup and response costs.
Anadarko, in accusing BP of negligence, has maintained that its stake was purely financial. “We were not an active participant in the well,” a spokesman told TPMmuckraker last week. He added that Anadarko “relied on BP to make the appropriate decisions.”
BP confirmed that it was the sole operator of the rig.
But, according to today’s FT, Anadarko approved of several elements of the project’s design. The company even signed off on BP’s use of the “long string,” a less expensive way of lining the well. Lawmakers excoriated BP CEO Tony Hayward for using the cheaper, and less safe, way of lining the well.
An Anadarko spokesman confirmed that the company signed off on the designs. But, he told FT, the designs met industry standards.
“What we knew was that the design, the long string and the use of centralisers all met industry standards if executed correctly,” said spokesman John Christiansen. “The problems were caused by BP’s execution of each of these.”
BP, as the leaseholder on the well, is financially responsible. According to the joint operating agreement, Anadarko, as a 25 percent owner of the lease, is responsible for 25 percent of costs associating from an incident like the rig explosion. Unless, that is, they can prove that BP acted with gross negligence or willfull misconduct. The company CEO alleged as much in a statement released earlier this month.