A: NPR's Debbie Elliott reports on what happened instead.
DEBBIE ELLIOTT: When something goes wrong with a well, the blowout preventer's shears are supposed to clamp down, cut and seal the drill pipe, preventing the oil from escaping. But in this case, Thompson says, that didn't work, because after the force of the explosion, the drill pipe wasn't aligned just right.
NEIL THOMPSON: The primary cause was that the drill pipe was off center in the wellbore.
ELLIOTT: Using computer-generated models, he shows his team's theory about what happened when the shear rams tried to cut the flow.
THOMPSON: And you can see the pipe begins to fold in, but there's a portion of pipe that is caught between the two ram block faces, then they can't fully close.
ELLIOTT: But lawyers for the companies responsible for the rig and blowout preventer question the findings as a novel and unprecedented theory. They argue investigators failed to test all the possible explanations for what might have caused the device to fail. All the interested parties in the Deepwater Horizon explosion get a chance to question witnesses. Here's attorney David Jones, who represents Cameron International, the company that made the blowout preventer.
DAVID JONES: Dr. Thompson, do you have any operational experience working on a drilling rig?
THOMPSON: I do not.
JONES: Before your involvement in this investigation, had you laid eyes on a blowout preventer?
THOMPSON: I had not.
ELLIOTT: The forensic testing of the blowout preventer has been fraught with delay and controversy, as attorneys weighed in on how to make sure all the evidence collected from the Gulf floor is preserved for litigation purposes. Experts from the companies are expected to testify later this week, with the exception of rig operator Transocean. The company's officials have refused to appear, while at the same time doling out bonuses for, quote, "the best year in safety performance in our company's history."
WILLIAM REILLY: Some companies just don't get it. I think Transocean doesn't get it.
ELLIOTT: Debbie Elliott, NPR News, Metairie, Louisiana.
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