BP actions before blowout were "reckless": Anadarko

By Kristen Hays and Braden Reddall

HOUSTON/SAN FRANCISCO (BestGrowthStock) – Anadarko Petroleum Corp, part owner of the well gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, joined in the torrent of criticism of BP Plc as it seeks to escape the huge financial liability.

Anadarko said on Friday that BP’s behavior before the blowout was “reckless” and likely represented “gross negligence or willful misconduct,” which would affect the obligations of the well owners under their operating agreement.

“We will be looking at our contractual remedies based on the information that we have already received about the behaviors and practices on the well in the finishing days,” Anadarko Chief Executive James Hackett told Reuters in an interview on Friday.

“We’re focusing on the fact that there appears to be gross negligence and willful misconduct,” he said.

BP, the well’s operator and 65 percent owner, said it “strongly disagreed” with Anadarko’s allegations.

Hackett said in a statement issued earlier that “mounting evidence clearly demonstrates” that the disaster that led to the explosion and sinking of a drilling rig and the deaths of 11 workers “was preventable and the direct result of BP’s reckless decisions and actions.”

Anadarko is BP’s 25 percent owner in the well, and BP said in a statement that co-owners must share in the cost of operations, “including the cost to clean up any spill” resulting from drilling the well.

But Hackett said in the interview that more information about signs of serious trouble during the drilling operation keep emerging, such as problematic tests and departures from standard practices.

He said Anadarko would have done things differently.

“This appears to be pilot error,” Hackett said, using a plane crash analogy.

“We were not on the rig, and we were not consulted about the practices and procedures used on the rig floor,” Hackett said. “A very important part of what we trust an operator to do in our business, is we trust them to work in the best interests of the other workers and owners.”

Hackett said his company was “shocked” by the information disclosed in investigations that showed BP “operated unsafely and failed to monitor and react to several critical warning signs” while drilling the well.

Companies typically have one or more partners for deepwater operations to share the high cost and risk, but operators do the work while partners contribute to costs and reap their percentage of profit from oil and gas sold.

BP had said on Wednesday it expected its partners in the well, including Anadarko and 10 percent owner Mitsui & Co, to meet their legal obligations.

But Hackett said their agreement holds the British company responsible for any damages caused as a result of BP’s “gross negligence or willful misconduct.”

Shares of Anadarko, down 42 percent since the explosion that sank the Deepwater Horizon on April 20, rose 2.2 percent after-hours, but that gain was halved as Moody’s cut its credit rating on Anadarko to “junk” status.

Moody’s cited the uncertainty about the costs Anadarko will have to pay to cover liabilities related to the oil spill.

In a response to the downgrade, Anadarko Chief Financial Officer Robert Gwin said in a statement that the move was “very disappointing” and “surprising” and “too early in the process” for Moody’s to take such action.

BP’s embattled chief executive, Tony Hayward, said in a statement that Anadarko’s allegations would not affect the company’s focus on stopping the leak or alter its commitments to restoring the Gulf Coast.

“Other parties besides BP may be responsible for costs and liabilities arising from the oil spill, and we expect those parties to live up to their obligations,” Hayward said.

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BP actions before blowout were “reckless”: Anadarko