Gulf of Mexico

A Halliburton mud logger who survived the fatal explosion on the Deepwater Horizon testified on Wednesday that he missed signs of trouble because of bustling activity on the drilling rig just before the blowout.

In a New Orleans federal court, Joseph Keith, the second blast survivor to give evidence in person regarding the disaster at the trial held to assign liability, said it was difficult to monitor the well due to other activity taking place on the rig, and he wasn’t aware of a problem until drilling mud started raining down on the rig floor ahead of the explosion.

The blowout triggered an explosion in April 2010, which killed 11 people and led to the worst offshore oil spill in US history. Last week during the trial, Transocean‘s senior toolpusher Randy Ezell testified to BP’s negligence in court.

Keith, who is a mud logger, gave his testimony on the 11th day of a non-jury trial that commenced on 25 February and is expected to continue for several months, reported The Associated Press.

"The blowout triggered an explosion in April 2010, which killed 11 people and led to the worst offshore oil spill in US history."

During the trial, Keith said that rig workers were carrying out several other jobs, such as operating a crane, making it difficult for him to observe the well for indications of a "kick" or unpredicted flow of fluids into the wellbore.

Keith also said BP was ultimately responsible for coordinating the operations on the rig and blamed the company for not stopping other activities during a delicate displacement process.

During cross-examination by a lawyer for Transocean, Keith said that despite other activities, he was still able to execute his job "fully and capably" and could have alerted supervisors in case he had heard anything dangerous happening on the rig.

Keith was deployed on the rig to monitor well conditions and report any red flags to a BP rig supervisor and drillers employed by Transocean. He said in court that he had 20 years of experience and caught roughly a dozen such "kicks" before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, without ever missing one.

Keith said, in a pre-trial statement, that he would have called the rig floor if he had noticed a rise in drill pipe pressures. Based on the statements, US District Judge Carl Barbier is anticipated to come to a conclusion about how much additional money BP and its contractors will have to pay for their roles in the disaster.

If the judge finds BP’s act as "gross negligence", the company might have to pay nearly $18bn in penalties under the Clean Water Act.


Image: Keith said he failed to notice any indications of a ‘kick’ before the deadly explosion. Photo courtesy of the United States Navy.

Energy