ExxonMobil, the world’s largest private sector oil company by market capitalisation, has beaten analysts’ expectations with a 46 per cent rise in earnings per share to $1.85 for the fourth quarter of 2010, helped by the rise in prices for oil and petrochemicals. Read more

Ed Crooks

Here is the list of the National Commission’s main recommendations following the BP oil spill. Read more

Ed Crooks

The civil suit against BP brought by the US government on Wednesday had been inevitable since we first found out that thousands of barrels of oil were spilling into the Gulf of Mexico. The timing of Wednesday’s announcement, mandated by the judge at the New Orleans court where the trial will be held, was the only surprise. It perhaps did not send the best message about the business-friendly nature of the administration, on a day when President Obama was courting many of America’s top CEOs.

The share price reaction was modest, reflecting the fact that while the headlines are terrible for sentiment, investors always knew this day would come. The news looks bad for BP, but shareholders can still hope for better, as the Lex column points out.

Nevertheless, the Department of Justice’s action is a salutary reminder that, eight months after the fatal accident on the Deepwater Horizon, and three months after the ill-fated Macondo well was sealed for good, BP is still not even close to finding out exactly how much the disaster will costRead more

Ed Crooks

When President Obama spoke about his new-found spirit of compromise after the Democratic party’s “shellacking” in the midterm elections, energy policy was one of the areas where he suggested Democrats and Republicans might be able to work together. The deep partisan divide over climate policy might make that seem a ridiculously hopeful aspiration, but in fact there are some areas of energy policy where the two parties ought to be able to find common ground. Read more

Ed Crooks

As the briefing heads towards the end, questioning comes back to the “negative pressure test”, used to determine whether the cement job had been successful and the well had been sealed properly so no oil and gas could escape.

On the afternoon and evening of April 20, the rig crew had two attempts at conducting a negative pressure test, intended to check what would happen if the heavy drilling fluid were flushed out of the riser and replaced with lighter sea water, as part of the standard procedure for disconnecting the rig and moving away. Read more

Ed Crooks

Many of the questions are attempts to get behind the report, for example, whether BP was taking extra risks to cut costs, how high the responsibility goes up the organization and whether there is a systemic problem at BP that needs addressing. Read more

Ed Crooks

Now we come to what the BP team believes were the causes of the accident, and the first company in the line of fire is Halliburton, which was the contractor responsible for the cement job to seal the well.

There is a heavy emphasis placed on the cement “foam”: cement injected with nitrogen to make it lighter, to avoid damaging the rock formation of the reservoir and making it harder to subsequently produce oil. Read more

Ed Crooks

Sure enough, the presentation moves on to a lengthy assessment of some of the factors that BP believes are not responsible for the accident, which have been cited in Congress as possible causes. Read more

Ed Crooks

Bly goes on to give the 30-second version of the report’s conclusions, which is that there were eight distinct failures that led to the accident, and it was only because all eight of those factors went wrong that the explosion and subsequent leak occurred. Read more

Ed Crooks

BP’s presentation of the results of its internal inquiry into the Deepwater Horizon is being delivered in Washington, in recognition of the fact that the most important audience it is addressing is in the US government and Congress. Read more