In testimony to two separate Senate panels, BP America president Lamar McKay blamed the explosion on the failure of a "blowout preventer"—a piece of equipment designed to seal off the head of the well in the event of an accident. But Steven Newman, the CEO of rig owner Transocean, testified under oath that the blowout preventers "were clearly not the root cause of the explosion." Instead, his testimony pointed at the oil field-services giant Halliburton: "The one thing we know with certainty is that on the evening of April 20, there was a sudden, catastrophic failure of the cement, the casing, or both." Newman's remarks suggested that the blowout preventer may have been damaged by debris from casing or cement.
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During Tuesday's Senate hearings on the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP, the operator of the Deepwater Horizon rig, came in for plenty of tough questions. But the focus is increasingly shifting to the role of Halliburton, which poured the cement for the rig, as well as for another operation that spilled oil off the coast of Australia last August.
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