Senior toolpusher on ill-fated Deepwater Horizon rig takes the stand
A Transocean employee who survived the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion testified at the Gulf oil spill trial Tuesday that a subordinate killed in the blast was one of the workers who apparently missed signs the well was about to blow out.
Randy Ezell, the first rig worker to testify in person at a trial designed to assign blame for the 2010 disaster, said Jason Anderson was a “top-notch” toolpusher who would have done everything in his power to prevent the blowout.
Anderson was one of 11 workers killed on the rig, which was owned by Transocean and leased by BP. The well blowout ultimately spawned the nation’s worst offshore oil spill.
Ezell, a senior toolpusher, said Anderson and others on the rig, including BP supervisors, misinterpreted the results of a crucial safety test. Ezell said Anderson told him during a telephone call less than an hour before the explosion that it was a “good test” and that there were no signs of trouble for 30 minutes after the test.
Well data showed the first indication of a problem could have been spotted about 20 minutes before that call, plaintiffs’ attorney Paul Sterbcow said as he questioned Ezell.
Ezell said he doesn’t know why Anderson and others were comfortable with the test results.
“I wish they were alive to tell us, but I don’t know what that reason was,” he said. “He didn’t tell me anything about a problem.”
Ezell also heaped praise on Anderson, saying he trusted him with his life.
“I still have the same confidence in Jason that I did before the incident,” Ezell said.
Ezell was off duty and in his room when he got a frantic call from an assistant driller who told him mud was shooting up from the rig floor and asked for his help.
“I was horrified,” he recalled.
Ezell was heading out to grab his boots and helmet when the explosion blew him 20 feet against a wall, leaving him covered in debris and disoriented.
Ezell, 57, helped two injured workers get off the rig safely. One of them had told Ezell to leave him and save himself. Justice Department attorney Michael Underhill asked Ezell why he didn’t.
“I stayed because it was the right thing to do,” he said.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)