BP had warning signs before Gulf blast-US panel

* Tests before explosion showed ‘fundamental mistake’

* BP, Transocean to testify in Congress on Thursday

WASHINGTON, May 25 (BestGrowthStock) – BP Plc (BP.L: ) told
congressional investigators on Tuesday that pressure tests on a
drill pipe hours before the deadly explosion that caused the
Gulf of Mexico oil leak showed a “fundamental mistake,” a memo
released by two congressmen showed.

The memo, by Representatives Henry Waxman and Bart Stupak,
who were briefed by BP about the progress of its internal
investigation, also said problems were found in equipment meant
to provide fail-safe protection against a blow out.

A BP investigator indicated to the lawmakers that the
fundamental mistake may have been made because heavy pressure
on the drill line of 1,400 pounds per square inch (98 kg per
square cm) was an “indicator of a very large abnormality.”

The memo did not indicate who made decisions after the
problem was found. BP and Transocean (RIGS.N: ), the owner and
operator of the rig, had supervisors on the rig when it
exploded.

About two hours before the explosion that killed 11 workers
and caused the leak that is still gushing oil, the rig team was
satisfied a test on another line was “successful,” the BP
investigator said.

BP would not comment on the memo and Transocean could not
be immediately reached.

The memo said BP data showed there were numerous problems
with production equipment. Nearly five hours before the
explosion, an unexpected loss of fluid was observed in the
well’s riser pipe. That suggests “there were leaks in the
annual preventer,” a rubber gasket in the blowout preventer,
the memo said.

Waxman and Stupak chair the House Energy and Commerce
Committee’s investigative subcommittee, which has reviewed over
105,000 pages of internal documents from BP, rig owner
Transocean Ltd, Halliburton Co (HAL.N: ), and blowout preventer
manufacturer Cameron (CAM.N: ).

The memo said the BP investigation has also raised concerns
about the maintenance history, modification, and inspection of
the blowout preventer.

Officials from BP and Transocean are next slated to testify
before congressional panels on Thursday.

According to BP, there were also three warming signs of
problems with unwanted flow in the well starting 51 minutes
before the explosion. About 18 minutes before the explosion
abnormal pressure leaks of the fluids known as mud meant to
keep oil and gas capped were observed and the pump was shut
down.

“The data suggests that the crew may have attempted
mechanical interventions at that point to control the pressure,
but soon after, the flow out and pressure increased
dramatically and the explosion took place,” the memo said.

Stock Market Money

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner, editing by Philip Barbara)

BP had warning signs before Gulf blast-US panel