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DISASTERS

Rig owner: Probe confirms Deepwater Horizon sound

The owner of the rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico last year said Wednesday that an investigative report issued by the vessel's flag state further confirms that the Deepwater Horizon was fit for service at the time of the disaster.

Transocean said the company continues to blame a catastrophic failure of BP's well for the April 2010 explosion that killed 11 men and led to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

BP said, as it has in the past, that it believes the disaster was the result of multiple causes involving multiple parties. It added that it is committed to helping the industry prevent similar accidents from happening again.

The Republic of the Marshall Islands, a Micronesian nation of islands in the Pacific Ocean, recommended in its report that there be improved procedures for activating emergency systems and maintaining fail-safe devices meant to prevent blowouts like the one that led to the massive BP oil spill.

The report also recommended rig operators ensure that new crew members, contractors and visitors be told when they board about the roles and responsibilities of people in charge of the vessel, and how the chain of command works in emergencies.

But it did little to place blame for the disaster on the principal companies involved, Deepwater Horizon rig owner Transocean Ltd. and British oil giant BP, which leased the rig to drill at its Macondo well site off the southeast Louisiana coast.

In somewhat of a pass for Transocean, the report concluded that confusion regarding decision-making authority during the incident was not a cause of the disaster. A U.S. government investigation by the Coast Guard and the agency that regulates offshore drilling has spent a lot of time focusing on that question. Their final report has not yet been released.

The Marshall Islands report was released Wednesday. An executive summary was obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The Marshall Islands report said the disaster was caused by a loss of well control. It blamed a deviation from engineering standards and well abandonment plans approved by U.S. regulators, along with a failure to react to multiple indications that the well had lost control. Those conclusions were similar to some of the findings in other investigations.

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