Although the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigation of the Deepwater Horizon rig blowout and spill is in its early stages, Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) Wednesday said the committee has uncovered major discrepancies in the accounts of some of the companies.

Halliburton, a major oilfield services company, “said it had secured the well through a procedure called cementing, and that the well had passed a key pressure test. But we now know that this is an incomplete account,” Waxman said in remarks kicking off the second day of hearings by the Subcommittee Oversight and Investigations into the April 20 rig explosion (see Daily GPI, May 12).

The well passed a positive pressure test, but “there is evidence that it may not have passed [the] crucial negative pressure tests,” he said.

Transocean Ltd., the owner and operator of the rig, said it had “no reason to believe that the rig’s fail-safe device, called a blowout preventer (BOP), was not fully operational. But we’ve learned from Cameron, the manufacturer of the blowout preventer, that the device had a leak in a crucial hydraulic system and a defectively configured ram,” Waxman said.

“And we know there are major questions about the effectiveness of BP’s response to the spill. The company said it could manage a spill of 250,000 b/d, yet it’s struggling to cope with this blowout, which is releasing only 5,000 to 25,000 b/d,” he noted. BP leased the rig from Transocean.

Waxman said the committee will pursue four principle areas of inquiry, including:

“This catastrophe appears to have been caused by a calamitous series of equipment and operational failures,” according to Waxman, who said that the committee has received more than 100,000 pages of documents so far in its investigation.

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