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Congress Seeks Info From Halliburton On Sunken Rig That Caused Spill
A U.S. congressional committee Friday requested that Halliburton Co. (HAL) provide information related to its work aboard a rig that caught fire and sank last week in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in a massive oil spill.
In a letter to Halliburton Chief Executive David Lesar, the Committee On Energy and Commerce requested a May 5 briefing with the oilfield services company and asked for company documents related to its work aboard the rig. The request is part of an ongoing investigation into the explosion and fire on a Transocean Ltd. (RIG) owned and operated rig that critically injured three people and left another 11 missing and feared dead. The rig was drilling a well for oil giant BP PLC (BP).
A report in Friday's edition of The Wall Street Journal identified the cementing process used to seal the well as a possible cause of the spill. The cementing process is supposed to prevent oil and natural gas from escaping by filling gaps between the outside of the well pipe and the inside of the hole bored into the ocean floor.
Oil services contractor Halliburton Inc. said in a statement Friday that workers had finished cementing the well's pipes 20 hours before the rig went up in flames. Halliburton is named as a defendant in most of the more than two dozen lawsuits filed by Gulf Coast people and businesses claiming the oil spill could ruin them financially. Without elaborating, one lawsuit filed by an injured technician on the rig claims that Halliburton improperly performed its job in cementing the well, "increasing the pressure at the well and contributing to the fire, explosion and resulting oil spill."
Remote-controlled blowout preventers designed to apply brute force to seal off a well should have kicked in. But they failed to activate after the explosion.
Scott Bickford, a lawyer for several Deepwater Horizon workers who survived the blast, said he believes a "burp" of natural gas rose to the rig floor and was sucked into machinery, leading to the explosion.
Halliburton's said "it is premature and irresponsible to speculate on any specific causal issues."
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