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Shell criticizes BP oil spill report, well design

By Tom Bergin

LONDON | Tue Oct 12, 2010 7:23am EDT

LONDON (Reuters) – The chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L) criticized the investigation that rival BP Plc (BP.L) conducted into the causes of its Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and the design BP chose for its blown out well.

Peter Voser said that to correctly investigate the accident one had to examine the thinking behind the particular well design BP used.

The Macondo well design included a number of cheaper options, including the use of a single tube from the surface to the reservoir, rather than two overlapping tubes, and U.S. lawmakers said these choices reflected a tendency on BP’s part to put profits before safety.

“Shell clearly would have drilled this well in a different way and would have had more options to prevent the accident,” Voser said, referring to Shell’s preference to include more barriers to hydrocarbon leaks in its well designs.

However, Voser accepted that oil companies had not invested enough in developing solutions to clean up spills.

“The industry was not prepared to handle this spill,” he said.

Voser said he expected tighter regulation following the spill and that going forward Shell would be more selective about who it would partner with on projects in the Gulf of Mexico.

In future, it would likely be more rigorous about its partners having the necessary technical skills and the financial weight to help pay to deal with any accident that may happen.

The CEO added that Shell was making progress in Iraq, where it won a contract to develop the Majnoon field last year.

Shell has raised output at the field to 70,000 barrels of oil per day from 45,000 bbls/day previously.

He said Shell was abiding by United Nations sanctions against Iran but added:

“I have not given up my long term hope that we can actually develop sources in Iran.”

(Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)


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