NEW YORK — BP knew of problems with an offshore well hours before it exploded last month, spilling millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, a House committee chairman said Wednesday.
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said the oil company told the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight privately that the well failed a key pressure test just hours before it exploded on April 20.
The test indicated pressure was building up in the well, which could indicate oil or gas was seeping in and could lead to an explosion, said Waxman.
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“Yet it appears the companies did not suspend operations, and now 11 workers are dead and the Gulf faces an environmental catastrophe,” he said, asking why work wasn’t stopped on the well.
Witnesses before the panel, which included executives from the three primary companies working on the well – BP, Transocean, and Halliburton – said the course of events and actions leading up to the explosion is still under investigation, and will come to light over time.
BP’s deepwater oil well, 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana, is now leaking some 200,000 gallons of crude a day following theexplosion that claimed 11 lives.