Halliburton cementing job investigated by oil spill commission

oil spill gulf of mexico 2010

Halliburton cement was identified as a major contributor to the blowout of BP's Macondo well by a presidential oil spill commission. Image: CC ideum/Flickr

A cement mixture used to seal BP’s Macondo well was tested by Halliburton and found to be unstable, but the company went ahead and used it anyway. Failure of the cement casing is considered a probable cause of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico 2010. Halliburton’s negligence is being investigated by a presidential commission and could result in action against the company by the Justice Department.

Halliburton knew cement was unstable

Halliburton’s decision to use the unstable cement is one of the first conclusions drawn by the commission investigating the cause of the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The Associated Press reports that its finding conflicts with earlier claims made by Halliburton that tests showed the cement mixture was stable. Halliburton and BP have been blaming each other for the disaster. BP has maintained the cement mixture failed to keep oil and gas from blowing out the Macondo well. Halliburton said BP’s well design and drilling operation were responsible.

Cement critical to prevent oil well blowouts

The cement mixture being investigated by the oil spill commission is a product used in oil drilling to secure a metal casing around pipes and the drill bit as they penetrate reservoirs of oil and gas beneath the ocean floor. The cement is also supposed to keep oil and gas from blowing out the well. The Los Angeles Times reports that in a section of the Macondo well 13,000 feet under the ocean floor, BP chose to use a cement mixture made and recommended by Halliburton. However, getting the right mix can be hit and miss, and the cement must be tested frequently for stability.

Halliburton cement fails every test

The oil spill commission sent samples of the Halliburton cement recipe to a Chevron laboratory for testing. The New York Times reports that the Halliburton mixture failed all nine stability tests designed to mimic conditions at the BP well. The commission concluded that the data “strongly suggests” the Halliburton cement may have contributed to the oil spill in the gulf of Mexico 2010. A small amount of the actual cement mixture used on the Macondo well survived the disaster and is being held as evidence for a criminal investigation.


Associated Press

Los Angeles Times

New York Times

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