Drillships like the Deepwater Horizon are leased by oil companies like BP to drill the hole that
becomes an oil well. Once the drilling is complete and the hole is lined with cement pipe, the drill ship moves on to the next oil company and its next project. Of course, the ship owner wants to keep his ship operating all of the time, and wants to keep his customers happy, so there are stiff fines built into the leases if the oil company doesn't complete its well on time and release the ship to move on to its next project.
You guessed it! BP was 43 days late at the time of the explosion, facing fines of $500,000 per day!
To complete an oil well, the hole is lined with a pipe called a casing, and the space between the inside of the hole and the outside of the casing is cemented into place to form an even thicker
conduit to withstand the pressure of the well. A piece called aptly, a "centralizer", holds the casing into the center of the hole at intervals along it's length to ensure an even gap between the hole and the casing. This way, when cement is pumped in it creates a strong, event surrounding to support the casing.
Halliburton, the well completion contractor hired by BP to complete the well, suggested using 21 centralizers to ensure the pipe was straight and centered in the bore. In the first of many bad decisions, the brain trust a BP directed the crew to use only 6, to save the time it would take to install Halliburton's recommended number.
Not only were they negligent, they were stupid! The entire decision process is documented in an email trail ending with:
"Who cares, it's done, end of story, will probably be fine."
Famous last words! I would suggest, dear jurors, that this was the smoking gun!
On top of that, a completed well is typically tested in a procedure called a "cement bond test" to ensure the well is strong and well-finished. A team from Schlumberger, a firm that would conduct such a test, was on board the ship, but was told BP had decided to forego the test in the interest of time. In fact, the team from Schlumberger was ferried ashore on the next regularly scheduled helicopter run by BP, just 12 hours before the rig exploded!
There were 3 other bad decisions detailed in the gist of the report, but Judge Ginger has decided to convict based on the evidence presented above. And she has the perfect sentence for the sorry-ass sons-of-bitches that made those terrible decisions:
Burn, baby! Burn!