Transocean Resolves Criminal And Civil Liability For Deepwater Horizon – To Pay $1.4 Billion

Posted On Thursday, January 3, 2013
By: Leslie A. Mariotti

Transocean Ltd., which owned the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that sank after an explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, has agreed to plead guilty to violating the Clean Water Act and to pay $1.4 billion to settle U.S. government charges arising from the disaster. The settlement, which is subject to a federal judge’s approval, includes $1 billion in civil penalties and $400 million in criminal fines and penalties.

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon rig was drilling a mile-deep well when a surge of methane sparked an explosion that resulted in the deaths of 11 rig workers and the largest oil spill in U.S. history.  According to the Department of Justice, in agreeing to plead guilty to a criminal misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act, Transocean has admitted that members of its crew, acting at the direction of BP supervisors, were negligent in failing to investigate indications that the well was not secure and that oil and gas were flowing into the well.

In November 2012, BP, which leased the rig from Transocean, agreed to pay a record $4.5 billion in fines and penalties and plead guilty to criminal charges related to the spill (Read more). The government’s civil claims against BP remain outstanding, with trial scheduled to begin on February 25, 2013. The three former BP employees facing criminal charges stemming from the rig explosion have pled not guilty and are awaiting trial.