Why the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Was Worse Than Hell

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- An investigation into the 2010 BP (BP) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico points to a series of specific failures, including the malfunction of a "blowout preventer" that punctured a critical pipeline, contributing to roughly 5 million barrels of oil spilled into the water. The findings indicate that other deepwater wells are at risk of similar failure.

The blowout preventer was manufactured by Houston-based Cameron International (CAM), an oil and gas equipment company. The device and the oil rig that exploded were owned by Transocean (RIG). Transocean had been contracted for the project by BP, which leased the mineral rights.

The report by the Chemical Safety Board, an independent U.S. agency charged with investigating chemical accidents, concludes that the blowout preventer, or BOP, activated as it should have when the explosion occurred. The device is designed to cut through and seal off the well. However, the drill pipe buckled under the deep sea pressure, pushing it partially beyond reach. The device was unable to complete its function, instead puncturing the pipe and sending more oil into the broken pipe, to spill out into the Gulf.

"The failure of the BOP directly led to the oil spill and contributed to the severity of the incident on the rig," the Chemical Safety Board said in a statement on its Web site.

Cameron spokeswoman Sharon Sloan, in an e-mail, said the company could not comment on the report.

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