Occupational Health & Safety

Retired LSU Professor Opens Defense in Deepwater Horizon Trial

Adam T. Bourgoyne Jr., who taught petroleum engineering, testified at the New Orleans trial that BP's Macondo well was drilled according to standard industry practices.

A former LSU professor of petroleum engineering testified April 8 as BP opened its defense in the trial that will determine its liability, if any, for the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill.

Adam T. Bourgoyne Jr., Ph.D, PE, who taught at LSU for 29 years before retiring in 1999 as professor and dean of its College of Engineering, testified that the well was drilled followed standard industry practices, Richard Thompson of The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

Key documents introduced in the trial are being made available at http://www.mdl2179trialdocs.com/. There are two reports posted for April 8, an expert report and a rebuttal report from Bourgoyne, in which he challenges conclusions reached by expert witnesses and places blame on Transocean, which owned the oil rig and employed the rig’s crew. He writes in the expert report:

"I have reached the following opinions to a reasonable engineering certainty in this matter: First, this well was drilled to total depth safely and successfully and consistent with industry practices. The Deepwater Horizon crew and BP's team followed industry practices in conducting formation integrity tests, interpreting those tests and properly managing their mud weights to safely drill each interval.

"Second, the use of the Loss Circulation Material (LCM) spacer during the temporary abandonment procedures on April 20, 2010 likely resulted in fluids being displaced in a manner that the rig crew did not fully understand.

"Third, the negative pressure test was not properly understood, but the parties involved allowed the displacement to continue. While everyone involved had every incentive to get it right and had no incentive to cut corners, they did not properly interpret the test.

"Fourth, the rig crew failed to properly monitor the well on April 20, 2010 and allowed a kick to go unnoticed until it turned into a blowout. Even after recognizing that signs of a kick were present, the Transocean rig crew failed to shut in the well immediately."

In the rebuttal report, Bourgoyne wrote, "I am not in agreement with some of the [expert witnesses'] statements and opinions made in these reports that BP was reckless and did not follow the standard drilling and completion practices used in the oil and gas industry."

Bourgoyne is currently the president of Bourgoyne Enterprises Inc., which provides petroleum engineering consulting services to the oil and gas industry.

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