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Gulf oil spill: BP engineer's idea to prevent future blowout is applauded

August 27, 2010 |  2:30 pm

A BP drilling engineer told federal investigators Friday that he thinks it would be helpful if the oil company had a real-time operations center that rig officials could call for help, an idea that the lead Coast Guard investigator considered useful in helping to prevent future blow out disasters.

BP drilling engineer Brett Cocales told a joint U.S. Coast Guard-Interior Department hearing in Houston that currently, if a well site leader has an issue that they want to get advice on, he would have to call a drilling engineer. If he couldn't get through to that person, he would have to turn to someone else -- a setup that is of concern to U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Hung Nguyen, the lead investigator.

Cocales said it would be helpful for the oil company to have a "real-time operations center." Nguyen was enthusiastic about the suggestion, perhaps partly because it was the first time all week that a BP employee offered what he considered to be a substantive recommendation to help prevent a future well blowout.

Nguyen offered his own details: an operations center that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is staffed with personnel trained in emergency response. He raised the possibility of a new government regulatory requirement mandating oil companies to implement some form of the idea.

-- Rong-Gong Lin II in Houston