(Reuters) – Two managers from BP Plc (BP.L) have been named as subjects of a federal investigation into the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, the Wall Street Journal said.
Robert Kaluza, a BP employee overseeing operations on the rig, and Patrick O’Bryan, BP’s vice president in charge of drilling, were named as parties by the investigators on Thursday, the paper said.
The two are the first individuals from BP to be named as “parties of interest” in the case, WSJ added, stating that both were aboard the rig representing BP, which owned the well being drilled, when it blew out.
Kaluza has been called twice to testify in front of the investigative board but he declined, citing his rights under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Journal said.
Neither could be reached for a comment by the paper. Kaluza’s lawyers and BP could not be immediately reached for a comment by Reuters outside regular U.S. business hours.
Engineers who pulled some of the rig’s equipment from the seabed two weeks after it exploded, found that a crucial safety switch wasn’t functional, the paper said, citing internal documents reviewed by them.
The safety switch — known as a “deadman switch” — should have activated once the floating rig erupted into flames and lost communication with well-control equipment a mile below the surface, WSJ said.
The device is designed to trigger the 450-ton blowout preventer on the ocean floor to seal the well and uncouple the drilling pipe snaking from the ocean floor to the rig floating on the surface. [ID:N28192201] (Reporting by Amulya Nagaraj in Bangalore; Editing by Lincoln Feast)