'Expanding deepwater' topped BP's list of goals for sources of growth beyond 2015 in a March 2010 presentation. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
'Expanding deepwater' topped BP's list of goals for sources of growth beyond 2015 in a March 2010 presentation. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

A BP presentation from March 2010 [1]—a month before the Deepwater Horizon disaster—spelled out the company’s “key sources of growth” beyond 2015. First on the list?

Expanding deepwater [2].”

The document also includes a bar graph that proclaims BP as the “leading deepwater company [2]” based on 2009 production numbers. According to the graph, BP produced the equivalent of 150 million more barrels of oil per day than did its closest rival, Shell.

BP’s document also shows that the company spent less on production costs [3] than its competitors. In a June 15 hearing [4] before lawmakers, some of those same oil companies told Congress that BP did not follow design standards [5] that they considered to be the industry norm.

BP’s Doug Suttles recently joined his industry peers in questioning the administration’s six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling.

“I understand why people might want to put a moratorium in place, but my personal view on this is we need to look very rapidly at what needs to be done that gives you confidence to restart (drilling in deepwater) because the consequences of stopping are also significant,” said Suttles, in comments reported by The Times-Picayune of New Orleans [6].

The moratorium was lifted last week, when U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman ruled that the rationale behind it was “heavy-handed, and rather overbearing [7].” Feldman, in 2008 and 2009 financial disclosures, reported owning stock in several oil companies [8]. (Disclosure: Feldman is the same judge who earlier this year dismissed a libel lawsuit [9] against ProPublica.) Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has said the administration may issue a new, narrower moratorium [10].

In tackling the Gulf disaster, BP has often cited the depth of this well as a primary challenge to containing the gusher [11]. By now, multiple reports—including one in today’s New York Times—document how the technology to drill to greater depths has surged ahead, while the technology to clean up a spill hasn’t been updated for decades [12].

While other oil company executives assured lawmakers that their companies would have done things differently than BP did in designing the well, they weren’t able to put as much distance between themselves and BP when grilled on their own preparedness for a major oil spill.

At the June 15 hearing, lawmakers pointed out that the major oil giants are using very similar oil spill response plans [13] that contain many of the same mistakes, including references to marine mammals that don’t live in the Gulf as well as contact information for deceased experts. All the plans were prepared by the same consulting group.

“When these things happen, we are not well-equipped to deal with them,” Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson told the House Energy panel.