World Oilfield Forum
If criminal negligence includes the notion of "failure to act," then the failures to act by managers onboard the Deepwater Horizon who were BP's contractors (Transocean, Halliburton and others) should also be subject to criminal prosecution. "I didn't make the final decision" should not be a defense, as everyone who did not object (and loudly) to proceeding in the face of two failed well integrity tests is complicit.
My article (linked below) discusses the safety audit on the Deepwater Horizon that took place the morning of the accident. One of the conclusions is that going forward there need to be changes in law and insurance rules. One idea would be to create an insurance pool to pay for down time for safety reasons when the rig site leader invokes "stop work authority" and disobeys the instructions of the well owner to proceed.
In this way, contractors would be less hesitant to invoke their authority to stop-work-for-safety, knowing that they have insurance to cover all or part of the collateral expenses.
The well owner should not be the only person responsible for making the final safety calls. As the Macondo incident redundantly shows, the psychological tension between conflicting objectives of speed, safety and cost avoidance can occasionally overwhelm the common sense of the most experienced of company men on a rig.
For his own good, the napoleonic Donald J. Vidrine needed someone to have stood in his face and have said something like this: "Hey, we're not going there. Operations are shut down as of this moment, and they will remain shut down until clear, no-nonsense results establish cement integrity. For my part, I'm calling my onshore people and demand that they get onto the safety of this well and this rig. You should do the same."