Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Waxman asks Halliburton to explain cementing of fatal BP well in Gulf

WASHINGTON – The initial inquiries into the cause of the fatal explosion and fire that sank the Transocean Deepwater Horizon rig in April, killing 11 and injuring 17, are centering on the cementing of the well by Halliburton 20 hours before the fatal explosion that ultimately sank the rig.
Cementing must be done in such a way that gaps do not open between the outside of the well pipe and the inside of the hole drilled into the sea floor. If cement is not poured properly, oil and natural gas can escape - the cause of more than a dozen previous well blowouts in the Gulf.
House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman on April 30 sent a letter to Halliburton, the company responsible for pouring the cement seal, asking company executives to brief committee investigators on conditions at the rig, and preserve all documents relating to their work on the sea floor.
Elmer Danenberger, an expert on offshore drilling who retired from the U.S. Department of the Interior in January, told ABC News he is worried that "lack of attention" during the pouring of the cement could be to blame.
"With these cementing operations it's just a matter of not being attentive enough," he said. "What you want is a closed system. You want the cemented pipe totally sealing the well bore. If you don't have that, you have problems."

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