| NEW ORLEANS
NEW ORLEANS Feb 27 BP Plc took chances
drilling its doomed Macondo well long before it ruptured in
2010, a well design and pressure expert said on Wednesday in the
second day of testimony in the civil trial over the Gulf of
Mexico oil spill.
Alan Huffman, chief technology officer for Fusion Petroleum
Technologies Inc, said BP forged ahead with drilling the well in
2009 outside the margin considered safe in the industry and by
He said there was a "kick" in the well during one of many
intervals in drilling, which indicates pressure was unstable and
there could be a rupture or other problem. Rather than stop
drilling, the work forged ahead with another interval.
"It is truly egregious to drill that extra 100 feet knowing
you could lose the well in the process," Huffman testified.
He said the well was "dangerous and fragile" and "they
should not have drilled ahead at all."
BP's legal team had yet to cross-examine Huffman, who
testified on behalf of the U.S. Justice Department, Gulf states
affected by the spill, and plaintiffs suing BP and its partners.
In this first of the trial's three phases, U.S. District
Judge Carl Barbier will seek to allocate blame between well
owner BP, driller Transocean Ltd, cement services
provider Halliburton Co and others, unless a settlement
cuts the trial short.
The April 2010 blowout caused an explosion that killed 11
men and sent more than 4 million barrels of crude spewing into
Earlier on Wednesday, plaintiffs played an excerpt of a
videotaped deposition of Kevin Lacy, former senior vice
president of Gulf drilling operations for BP, who resigned from
the company a few months before the spill because of concerns
about BP's safety practices.
He testified that he was under heavy pressure from top BP
management in 2008 and 2009 to shave hundreds of millions of
dollars in costs and received bonuses for doing so. In 2009, his
team cut up to $300 million in costs and had pressure to keep it
up in 2010.
"I was never given a directive to cut corners or to deliver
something not safely," Lacy said. "But there was tremendous
pressure on costs."
Also on Wednesday, Lamar McKay, BP's global head of
exploration and production, finished his live testimony and held
fast that BP was partly, not wholly, responsible for the spill.
He resisted Transocean lawyer Kerry Miller's aggressive
questions seeking an admission of complete responsibility.
"We've agreed that we're part of the responsibility for this
tragic accident. We've apologized for that. We've accepted
responsibility for that in many different ways," McKay
Don Godwin, a lawyer for Halliburton, took a similar tack
with McKay. BP has held that Halliburton made substandard cement
used to plug the well before the rupture.
Godwin pushed on whether BP would have known there was a
problem with the cement had the company's well site leader
correctly interpreted results of a critical pressure test. BP
has acknowledged that a correct interpretation of the test would
have alerted those on the rig that the well was dangerously
"It was not an effective barrier," McKay said of the cement.
"Because the negative pressure test was misinterpreted?"
"Potentially, yes," McKay replied.
Also on tap to testify this week is Mark Bly, global head of
safety and operational risk who ran BP's internal probe of the
spill in 2010.
The case is In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater
Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, No.
10-md-02179, in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of