News & Politics

Transocean, Firm Behind Exploding Gulf Rig, Gives Execs Bonuses for ‘Best Safety Year’


As we head toward the one-year anniversary of the start of the BP spill in the Gulf (that was April 20, 2010, in case you’ve forgotten), it’s almost as though we’ve completely forgotten about that old oil spill in the Gulf. Out of sight, out of mind! BP is petitioning U.S. regulators to drill again in the Gulf. Possibly more upsetting is the fact that Transocean, the offshore drilling firm responsible for running Deepwater Horizon, the rig that exploded, has given bonuses to its top executives for its “best year” for safety.

Keep in mind, 11 workers were killed when Deepwater Horizon exploded. Nine of them worked for Transocean. Nonetheless, the company is awarding its executives, saying “there had been a drop in the rate of recorded incidents and also in their potential severity,” via BBC News.

This isn’t all that surprising as Transocean has never acknowledged blame in the spill, claiming it was BP’s fault alone. BP says Transocean shares the blame, and a presidential commission divided fault between Transocean, BP, and Halliburton.

Despite that, Transocean handed out huge bonuses to its executives citing the company’s best year for safety ever.

“Notwithstanding the tragic loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico, we achieved an exemplary statistical safety record as measured by our total recordable incident rate and total potential severity rate,” the report says.

One thing that hasn’t changed throughout this disaster is the stunning ability of oil company executives to “insert foot in mouth” in almost any instance. However, someone seems to have gotten word that this most recent action might not have been the most PR-savvy. (If this is the best safety year ever…yikes.) Transocean has apologized. Via NPR:

Now, in a statement to CNN, the company says “we acknowledge that some of the wording in our 2010 proxy statement may have been insensitive in light of the incident that claimed the lives of eleven exceptional men last year and we deeply regret any pain that it may have caused.”

Apology notwithstanding, SEC filings include the information that Transocean President/CEO Steve Newman got a $200,000 raise. Congrats. (Check out other raises here.)

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has said “There is absolutely no such agreement nor would there be such an agreement” for BP to begin drilling again in the Gulf.

So maybe we haven’t forgotten quite yet.

Transocean gives bonuses after Gulf of Mexico BP spill [BBC]
Calling 2010 ‘Best Year’ On Safety Was Mistake, Gulf Oil Rig Owner Admits

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 4, 2011

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