Deepwater accident

Switzerland-based offshore drilling company Transocean has reached an agreement with the US Department of Justice to pay $1.4bn to settle all civil and criminal claims relating to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which is owned and operated by Transocean but leased to BP, caught fire and sank in the Gulf of Mexico while drilling at BP’s Macondo well, leading to one of the largest offshore oil spills in US history.

Under the agreement, the company will pay a $100m fine for failing to adequately monitor the well at the time of the explosion in April 2010, which killed 11 workers.

Transocean will also have to pay $1bn in fines for civil violations of the Clean Water Act and pay an additional $150m each to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences for oil-spill response and habitat rehabilitation.

The company has also agreed to consult with the US in preparing a performance plan for implementing measures to prevent a recurrence of such an uncontrolled discharge of hydrocarbons.

Transocean will have to submit the plan within 120 days of the agreement taking effect to receive the government’s approval.

Earlier in November 2012, BP agreed to pay $4.5bn in a settlement with the US government over the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The settlement also included a criminal fine – the largest in US history – of $1.26bn, which BP will pay in instalments over five years.

The US Chemical Safety Board, in a report submitted in July 2012, said that both BP and Transocean had "multiple safety management system deficiencies that contributed to the Macondo incident".


Image: Transocean has agreed to pay $1.4bn to settle all civil and criminal claims relating to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo courtesy of the US Coast Guard.