However, as time passed, despite the essentially forced resignation of BP CEO Tony Hayward and the specter of BP having to ante up tens of billions of dollars for damages payments and fines, it began to appear that culpability for the disaster shouldn't sit solely on the company's shoulders. Now, with Japan's Mitsui & Co. having just agreed to pay nearly $1.1 billion for damages related to its 10% stake in Macondo, it's clearly becoming apparent that guilt among several parties in the well is becoming accepted wisdom.
The emergence of that new recognition has likely been propelled by analyses of the tragedy and its likely causes. In March, a report by Det Norske Veritas, international risk consultants retained by the U.S. Interior Department, tied the failure of the rig's huge blowout preventer to a design flaw. The massive piece of equipment had been manufactured by Cameron International
Last month, a report wrapping up a U.S. Coast Guard study noted rig maintenance, training, and safety systems inadequacies at Transocean. The Coast Guard analysis followed an earlier spill commission study that hardly exonerated Halliburton
For months after the blowout, Anadarko Petroleum
So are BP's troubles fading away? Maybe not. The company's step forward has unfortunately been accompanied by another to the rear. According to Russian energy minister Sergei Shmatko, the company's agreed-to partnership with his country's oil giant, OAO Rosneft, which has been blocked by BP's Russian billionaire partners in the TNK-BP joint venture, is severely wounded -- or worse. It thus appears that its form must be altered significantly or BP will be replaced by another member of Big Oil that is long on offshore experience, such as Chevron
I think you'll agree that BP is the Inspector Clouseau of Big Oil -- possessing an amazing ability to execute one pratfall after another. Without that ability, the company is cheap. But the tendency can't be ignored, and so, until it subsides, I suggest that Fools -- ideally using their personalized watchlist -- simply monitor the company carefully.
We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies named in this article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.