BP accused of stonewalling by drilling partner

By Steve Hargreaves, Senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Transocean, the company that owned the ill-fated drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, lashed out at well owner BP Thursday, accusing the oil giant of stonewalling the investigation into the Gulf disaster.

The drilling company accused BP (BP) of failing to provide documents critical for Transocean to determine exactly what caused its drilling rig, the Deepwater Horizon, to explode and subsequently sink last April.

"BP has continued to demonstrate its unwillingness, if not outright refusal, to deliver even the most basic information to Transocean," said the letter, sent to BP and members of Congress. "It appears BP is withholding evidence in an attempt to prevent any entity other than BP from investigating the cause of the incident."

Transocean (RIG) said it has asked for the information, which includes logs and test results in the days leading up to the explosion, at least seven times.

In the letter, Transocean's lawyers noted that BP agreed to provide some information earlier this summer, but made Transocean sign a confidentiality agreement before doing so.

A BP spokesman said the company is "disappointed" with Transocean's letter and called the allegations "misguided."

"We have been at the forefront of cooperating with various investigations, BP spokesman John Curry said in a statement to CNN. "Our commitment to cooperate with these investigations has been and remains unequivocal and steadfast."

Transocean said it wants the information to conduct its own internal investigation into the incident, which claimed 11 lives and caused the worst oil spill in U.S. history. It also said the information could be useful in making drilling practices safer industry-wide.

But much is at stake in the investigation. Although BP is responsible for all the costs to clean up the oil and has committed $20 billion to offset economic damages to the region, experts say lawsuits could drag on for years and involve all the companies involved in the doomed project.

If BP is found to have acted negligently in the days and weeks leading up to the explosion, that could greatly reduce the liabilities for BP's partners in the well and make things costlier for BP.

Evidence presented in Congressional hearings suggests BP managers aboard the drill rig pushed ahead with faster and cheaper methods for drilling the well, sometimes against the advice of its contractors.

BP contracts included Transocean and Halliburton (HAL, Fortune 500). Oil firms Anadarko (APC, Fortune 500) and Japan's Mitsui are also part owners in the well, and could see their liabilities decreased if BP is found negligent.

There are several ongoing investigations into the incident, and they are not expected to be completed for months.  To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,113.54 61.81 0.36%
Nasdaq 4,456.02 31.31 0.71%
S&P 500 1,983.53 9.90 0.50%
Treasuries 2.46 -0.00 -0.16%
Data as of 8:40am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 15.52 0.00 0.00%
Apple Inc 94.72 0.78 0.83%
Microsoft Corp 44.83 -0.00 -0.01%
Intel Corp 34.79 0.73 2.14%
Facebook Inc 69.27 -0.13 -0.19%
Data as of Jul 22

Sections

Passion fruit, Mexican cinnamon and Ecuadorian cocoa. From coast to coast, entrepreneurs are brewing craft beers that incorporate Latin flavors. More

One recently retired airline worker on Obamacare said his tax credit for 2014 will return him $3,600 for the year, or 23% of his annual income. He's watching the dueling court rulings closely. More

Ladar Levison, the guy behind Lavabit, is launching Dark Mail to encrypt emails so the NSA doesn't even know who's talking. More

Passion fruit, Mexican cinnamon and Ecuadorian cocoa. From coast to coast, entrepreneurs are brewing craft beers that incorporate Latin flavors. More

Court documents show big support from Detroit employees and retirees for a turnaround plan that should help the city emerge quickly from bankruptcy. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.