By Ray Fleming

THE full report of the National Oil Spill Commission set up by President Obama to look into the causes of the blow-out at BP's Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico last year will be published next week but yesterday some sections were released in advance. Although BP quickly put out an appeasing statement emphasising that it had co-operated fully with the Commission, the report will make uncomfortable reading for BP and its contractors Transocean and Haliburton.

For instance, this: “Most of the mistakes and oversights at Macondo can be traced back to a single overarching failure -- a failure of management... Better management would almost certainly have prevented the blowout.” The report lists nine key decisions that may have contributed to the disaster; seven of them appeared to have been taken to save time and were the responsibility of BP.

The Commission's full report will be studied very carefully indeed by the three companies at the centre of the disaster, not least in order to judge how far it will be used in evidence in the US government's civil lawsuit against BP. One mitigating factor for these companies may be the criticism made by the Commission of the US government's regulatory agencies which appear to have operated in a rather lax manner in the past and failed to supervise on the ground operations which they had approved on paper.

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