Transocean gives bonuses for ‘best year in safety’ … that left 11 dead

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, April 4, 2011 10:30 EDT
google plus icon
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Email this page

It’s still too soon to say exactly who was to blame for the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf last year, but already rig owner Transocean is congratulating itself for its safety record, and dishing out the bonuses.

In federal filings revealed over the weekend by The Wall Street Journal, Transocean claims that the horrific accident in the Gulf aside, the company had in 2010 the best safety record in its history.

In spite of this claim, nine of the 11 workers killed on the Deepwater Horizon rig were Transocean employees. Still, the company said, calculating the number of work hours by the total number of accidents, they had fewer injuries than at any other point in the company’s history.

Transocean and business partners BP and Halliburton all blame one another in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which was still under investigation.

Ultimately, what caused the accident was a large bubble of methane that swelled out of the well and shot into the drilling column — but that’s a danger with many wells and there are safety procedures to deal with that. Ironically enough, those safeguards failed while a group of BP executives was onboard to celebrate the project’s safety record.

BP managers who were on the rig could now face manslaughter charges, depending on which way the investigation goes. A summary of some preliminary findings said that BP was not exclusively to blame for the accident, and that investigators were still trying to determine their financial liability. It was unlikely to charge the company with “gross negligence,” which would let executives avoid criminal charges.

Fines under the Clean Water Act range from $1,100 per barrel spilled to as high as $4,300 per barrel spilled, if negligence is proven, meaning BP could theoretically face fines of up to $17.6 billion.

While federal investigators have taken the lead in determining how the accident happened, Transocean led salvage operations on the destroyed rig and provided the government with most of the information their investigation is based upon.

In addition, BP and investment firms Anadarko and Mitsui had a stake in the salvage operations, after putting up 25 percent and 10 percent of the capital for the deepwater drilling exploration.

Transocean did not disclose the bonus totals.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
By commenting, you agree to our terms of service
and to abide by our commenting policy.