The man in charge of BP's ill-fated Deepwater Horizon rig warned his boss that staff were operating in "chaos, paranoia and insanity" just days before a fatal blowout killed 11 men and caused the worst oil spill in US history, a New Orleans court heard on Monday.
In opening arguments Michael Underhill, the lawyer representing the US Department of Justice, said BP knew it was drilling a "well from hell" but that its managers refused to deviate from a "course of corporate recklessness" that ultimately led to the fatal blowout at the Gulf of Mexico well.
In a difficult day for BP, Underhill was followed by statements from BP's partners in the fatal rig, Transocean and Halliburton, who also slammed BP. The dead rig workers "put too much trust in BP and paid for that trust with their lives," said Transocean attorney Brad Brian.
The company was guilty of "willful misconduct," said Underhill. It had calculated it needed $7bn (£4.6bn) to pay shareholders their dividend and put immense pressure on staff to save money and drill faster in order to reach that target, he said. "A safety corner cut a day saved was a $1m saved for BP," said Underhill.