Leaked BP report reveals safety lapses: Greenpeace

A British Petroleum (BP) logo is seen at a petrol station near the Burj Khalifa in Dubai on Aug 29, 2012.
A British Petroleum (BP) logo is seen at a petrol station near the Burj Khalifa in Dubai on Aug 29, 2012. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - British oil giant BP faces safety shortfalls at its operations that could spark serious accidents, according to a leaked internal report published Tuesday (Dec 13) by Greenpeace.

The confidential document alleged BP had weaknesses in the way it manages critical information and incident reporting at its refineries and oil rigs, thereby increasing the risk of accidents, according to Greenpeace.

The environmental campaign group added that two of BP's failures had almost sparked fatal incidents that were together still costing it US$180 million (S$256 million) per year.

The leaked study was carried out in August 2015 and was based on interviews with 150 personnel across nine BP sites around the world.

The report found there were around 500 recent incidents, of which 75 were directly linked to poor information.

The list of errors ranges from missing blueprints to wrongly-installed anti-blowout devices.

BP has experienced "repeated near-misses" as a result of those errors, with at least one serious incident at a US oil refinery, the report added.

The group's ability to prevent problems was so weak that there was a real risk of leaks or explosions - and this problem "requires urgent attention", the document stated.

The leaked report also alleged that BP's information management policies are lagging behind major competitors like Chevron, ConocoPhilips, Royal Dutch Shell, and state-owned Malaysian giant Petronas.

The news surfaced one week after BP confirmed a US$9-billion investment in a new oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP remains in the spotlight over safety following the deadly 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill catastrophe in the region.

"Nearly seven years have passed since the Deepwater Horizon disaster and BP's sloppy approach to a crucial aspect of safety hasn't changed," said Charlie Kronick, senior climate advisor at Greenpeace UK.

"For a company that's been trying to drill in some of the world's most fragile environments this is completely unacceptable."

The London-listed energy major however insisted that it was committed to safety.

"BP is committed to safe, reliable and compliant operations," it said in a brief statement. "This particular report focused on potential enhancements to how BP manages engineering data.

"It is not an analysis of any operational incidents, and any suggestion that this report indicates BP is wavering from its safety commitment is wrong." The Gulf of Mexico oil disaster badly tarnished BP's reputation and cost it a total of $61.6 billion. The company axed thousands of jobs and sold billions of dollars of assets in order to meet the clean-up bill.

In April 2010, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed 11 men off the coast of Louisiana and caused 134 million gallons (507 million litres) of oil to spew into Gulf waters.