U.S. offshore-drilling officials issued their first violations stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill Wednesday, accusing BP and two of its contractors of breaking several rules.
The citations were widely expected against BP, the operator of the Deepwater Horizon rig. But the government’s decision to pursue contractors Transocean and Halliburton for infractions jolted the contracting industry, which traditionally avoids liability in such accidents.
The decision to penalize the contractors “reflects the severity of the incident,” the Interior Department said in a statement. Interior officials are committed “to holding all parties accountable.”
The citations follow a months-long investigation by the Interior Department and Coast Guard. Interior said Wednesday it had identified 15 incidents of noncompliance with federal rules. Among them were the failure to perform operations in a safe manner and the failure to conduct accurate pressure-integrity tests.
BP spokesman Scott Dean said the violation make clear “contractors, like operators, are responsible” for their actions and “accountable to the U.S. government and the American public for their conduct.”
BP also used the findings to chide its partners in developing the Macondo well, which was being drilled by the Deepwater Horizon rig.
"We continue to encourage other parties, including Transocean and Halliburton, to acknowledge their responsibilities in the accident," Dean added.
A Transocean representative said the company “intends to appeal its citations.”