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Oil spill: BP files suits against Transocean,Cameron

April 21, 2011 13:20 IST

BPEnergy giant British Petroleum has filed lawsuits against Swiss-based rig owner Transocean, suing it for $40 billion for failing to stop the calamitous Gulf oil spill last year.

It is also suing US firm Cameron International, the manufacturers of the blowout preventer, BP said in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday in a New Orleans federal court.

"We are suing the rig owner for at least $40 billion in damages, accusing it of causing last year's deadly blowout in the Gulf of Mexico that led to the worst offshore oil spill in US history on April 20 last year, the filing said.

The British company said they (Tranocean and Cameron) were largely to blame for the accident that killed 11 and spilled 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

BP says every single safety system and device and well control procedure on the Deepwater Horizon rig failed.

It is also suing Cameron International, which provided a blowout preventer with a faulty design, which caused an unreasonable amount of risk that harm would occur, the filing said.

Both companies have filed counter claims against BP.

Cameron 'did not meet the standards of a reasonable manufacturer and service provider', BP said in the filing.

BP is seeking damages from Cameron for providing a product it says was defective, as well for claims against BP under the Oil Pollution Act.

In the case of Transocean, BP says the company failed 'to properly operate the Deepwater Horizon', including failing to properly inspect equipment, asses the risk of equipment failure and negligently hiring, retaining and/or training personnel.

"Many parties involved in the case have filed suit against one another in the last few days in order to reserve their rights to make certain claims under several statutory deadlines that expire Wednesday -- the one-year anniversary of the disaster.

The blowout preventer had two control pods with redundant systems.

A solenoid intended to activate a 'deadman' switch in one of the pods if the blowout preventer lost contact with the rig failed, when it was tested after the device was brought back to the surface.

A battery in the second pod was found to be too weak to activate the deadman function.

Meanwhile on the first anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, oil giant BP revealed via mandatory disclosure forms that it spent at least $2 million on federal lobbying in the first quarter of 2011 on a wide range of issues.

It included from advocating for an end to the offshore drilling moratorium imposed by President Barack Obama in the wake of the spill to caps on its contributions to the restoration of the Gulf Coast.

BP tapped five well-connected lobbying firms -- Alpine Group; Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock; the Podesta Group; Stuntz Davis & Staffier; and the Duberstein Group -- to ply their influence on Capitol Hill and at federal agencies in the wake of the four-month-long spill, the filing said.

Executive-branch agencies targeted by the beleaguered oil behemoth, which faces a criminal probe by the Justice Department, included the Environmental Protection Agency and the State and Treasury departments.

In addition to the drilling moratorium and coastal restoration contributions, BP lobbied heavily regarding implementation of the presidential oil spill commission's recommendations, which included stricter oversight of offshore drilling.

BP also lobbied Congress on the Put the Gulf Back to Work Act, the legislation passed last week by the House Natural Resources Committee under the leadership of chairman Doc Hastings, which speeds up the approval process for new rilling permits.

That Bill prompted Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to accuse House Republicans of having 'amnesia' about the oil spill.

In addition, the oil company lobbied on several proposed EPA rules relating to greenhouse gas emissions and ambient air quality standards, and lobbied Congress on energy tax issues, corporate tax reform and the export of Caspian gas into European markets.

Seema Hakhu Kachru in Houston
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