Regulator Says BOP Was Years Overdue For Maintenance

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The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, the federal regulator that oversees offshore drilling in U.S. waters, said the blowout preventer on the Deepwater Horizon rig was four years overdue for maintenance, according to guidelines set forth by Transocean, the rig's owner.

The blowout preventer, which was made by Texas-based Cameron International (CAM), had not been disassembled and refurbished since the rig was commissioned in 2001, Bloomberg News reported, citing BOEMRE. Under Transocean's (RIG) own guidelines, the device should have been refurbished no later than the summer of 2006, Bloomberg reported.

The device failed to cut and seal pipes during the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon last April. Eleven workers aboard the rig perished and the tragedy led to the biggest oil spill in U.S. history. A Transocean manager told the federal panel investigating the spill that the blowout preventer was not in need of maintenance.

A study of the blowout preventer, carried out by Det Norske Veritas, concluded that a lack of maintenance work wasn't a factor in the failure of the blades to crimp the pipe, according to Bloomberg. BP (BP), the largest oil and gas producer in the U.S., was the operator of the Deepwater Horizon.