Editor’s Note: This is a nine part series telling the story of Chris McIntyre’s experience during the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon blowout, explosion and subsequent environmental disaster. Unfortunately for Chris, there will likely be no fairy tale ending. Students of this unprecedented catastrophe are encouraged to read all nine parts and draw their own conclusions about the allegations. However, those wishing to see how and why the Court ultimately ruled in favor of BP may wish to go directly to Part IX.
Among the numerous inconsistencies found in the BP Deepwater Horizon trial testimony and documentation, we now point to an email dated June 18, 2010 from BP’s Trevor Smith. In the email, Smith prepares his team at BP to answer questions posed by United States Secretary of Energy Steven Chu as to BP’s readiness to deploy a well capping solution. Secretary Chu was particularly concerned with the ability of BP’s proposed device to withstand the expected pressures involved once the well was shut in.
In the email, Smith indicates that he does not yet have design tolerances available for the latest iteration of the proposed capping device (Transition Spool / Flange Spool). However, he does have a report which details the capabilities of a similar device – the “Swing Valve Assembly.” Smith tells his team that the “Swing Valve Assembly” was “an earlier capping assembly,” meaning it predated the Transition Spool / Flange Spool.
The problem is that in the final Technical Assurance Report (TAS) issued by BP in July 2010, the Swing Valve Assembly is shown as being developed after the Transition Spool / Flange Spool. The Technical Assurance Report shows a detailed drawing of the Transition Spool / Flange Spool dated May 1, 2010 (TAS at 512) and a design drawing of the Swing Valve Assembly dated May 4, 2010 (TAS at 516). Once again, BP’s credibility is impugned by dates and documents that do not seem to jibe. The documents say the Transition Spool came before the Swing Valve, yet Trevor Smith’s email says just the opposite. Which is it?
Of course, we allege that neither the Swing Valve Assembly nor the Transition Spool were designed, nor for that matter even conceived of, until Chris McIntyre emailed BP the design for same on May 14, 2010 at 3:48 AM Alaska Standard Time. We have always questioned the origins of the above and below images from the Technical Assurance Report, assembled after-the-fact in July of 2010. Now the authenticity of these design drawings is cast into further doubt by BP’s own evidence (Trevor Smith’s email seemingly contradicting the development chronology of the various devices as depicted in these images).
Shifting gears away from the Swing Valve / Transition Spool conundrum, let’s take a look at yet another example of documentation with contradictory dates. While it is not necessary to fully understand its purpose, something called the Mule Shoe was developed at the bottom of the Transition Spool. This Mule Shoe was a wedge shaped appendage meant to help guide the Transition Spool into the top of the Flex Joint. During his trial testimony, BP’s Trevor Smith presented a timeline in which he said the Mule Shoe was designed on May 12, 2010. Yet in the technical Assurance Report referenced above, there is a design drawing of the Mule Shoe dated May 4, 2010 (TAS at 518).
We would like for a jury to make that determination.
The case is Christopher McIntyre v. BP Exploration and Production, et al., Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Docket #: 15-35234.
As a plaintiff attorney, Tom Young has been at the forefront of some of the Nation's worst disasters. In 2015, he was judicially appointed to represent over 200,000 plaintiffs in an allocation proceeding involving a $1.24 billion settlement with Deepwater Horizon contractor Halliburton and rig owner Transocean. Currently, he's focused on representing numerous communities across the country that have been ravaged by the opioid epidemic and are now seeking damages from drug manufacturers and distributors.