U.S. congressional investigators this week asked BP Plc to explain why it plans to delete a key finding from a consultant’s report that detailed “budget pressure” as a contributor to the biggest oil spill on the Alaska North Slope last year.
BP wants to remove a finding in a March 2007 report by consultants Booz Allen Hamilton that concludes cost pressures led BP to cancel planned internal inspections of the corroded pipeline that leaked at least 200,000 gallons of crude oil last March, Democratic lawmakers said in a May 10 letter to BP.
Robert Malone, chairman and president of BP America Inc., is expected to testify before the committee on May 16 about the massive spill that eventually spurred the partial shutdown of the largest oil field in the United States in August 2006.
BP officials met with committee staff on May 9, where they detailed the “substantial correction” to the report, the letter said.
Government investigators have criticized BP for failing to use devices called “pigs” to clean and inspect the inside of its oil transit pipelines at Prudhoe Bay.
“Budget pressure eventually led to de-scoping some projects and deferring others,” said the Booz Allen report, commissioned by BP management. “For example, the plan to run a smart pig … was dropped in 2004 and 2005,” the report said, cited in the committee letter.
Sources familiar with the full report told Reuters this week the document blamed cost cutting at BP following two mergers for decimating internal controls over operations.