DISASTER IN THE GULF
Experts have their doubts on well’s design
By TOM FOWLER Copyright 2010 Houston Chronicle

The seeds of destruction for the Deepwater Horizon rig may have been planted well before its drill bits started churning into the earth a mile under the sea.

Engineering plans for the thousands of feet of pipes and joints, which BP filed with federal regulators prior to drilling, made the well particularly susceptible to a major accident, a number of industry experts say. The design left an unobstructed path for highly pressurized natural gas to reach the wellhead should safety systems fail.

One of those systems, the cement pumped between sections of pipe to seal them off from oil and gas, was far from robust, according to testimony and documents. Some tests to assure the integrity of the cement showed mixed results, while another test was simply skipped.

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