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Update in civil trial following BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill

Testimony in the civil trial against BP and its contractors following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is giving insight into what went wrong that fateful day in April 2010. Recently, a worker who survived the rig explosion that led to the worst offshore oil spill in history testified that he and others were busy when they missed signs that an explosion was imminent.

The offshore accident ended up killing 11 workers and dumping millions of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana. The incident demonstrated just how deadly and devastating offshore drilling accidents can be and led to tighter regulation of the drilling industry.

The rig worker, who was the second worker to testify in the trial, said that he and other workers were performing other tasks that made it difficult to monitor the well for signs of a "kick," which refers to an unexpected flow of fluids into the wellbore. This is surefire warning that something has gone wrong and immediate action is necessary.

The worker said that in almost 20 years on the job, he has never missed a "kick" and has caught and reported about a dozen during his career. Although the worker testified that he was "sorry" the explosion hadn't been prevented, he said he didn't have any regrets. It was BP that should have had the foresight to stop the disaster, he testified.

The worker's testimony is part of a trial aimed at determining exactly what went wrong and who is at fault for the Deepwater Horizon explosion. It is possible that the non-jury trial could last months as the U.S. District Court judge attempts to appoint liability. Experts say BP could be liable for as much as $18 billion for its role in the disaster if the judge determines that it acted with "gross negligence."

Source: Associated Press, "Worker: Rig was bustling before BP well blowout," Michael Munzelman, March 13, 2013

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