Transocean, the Swiss company that owned the Deepwater Horizon deepwater oil drilling rig, will plead guilty to criminal misconduct and violations of the Clean Water Act for its role in the 2010 BP oil spill, the U.S Justice Department announced today. The Swiss company has also agreed to pay a $1.4 billion to settle the charges.
Transocean leased the Deepwater Horizon to BP for offshore exploration in the Gulf of Mexico. A number of Transocean employees worked aboard the rig alongside BP workers, who were in the process of sealing the Macondo well when the rig exploded on April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers and unleashing the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. For 85 days, BP engineers tried and failed to contain the blown-out well, which released about 206 million gallons of oil into the Gulf before it was finally stopped.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, Transocean admitted its Deepwater Horizon crew members who were working under the direction of BP “were negligent in failing fully to investigate clear indications that the Macondo well was not secure and that oil and gas were flowing into the well.”
“Transocean’s rig crew accepted the direction of BP well site leaders to proceed in the face of clear danger signs – at a tragic coast to many of them,” said assistant attorney general Lanny Breuer.
As part of the agreement, Transocean committed to improving its safety and emergency response procedures at all of its drilling rigs operating in U.S. waters.
Transocean will pay $100 million for one misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act for its role in the oil spill. The company has also agreed to pay $1 billion in civil penalties under the Clean Water Act and two payments of $150 million each to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences for coastal restoration in the Gulf and oil-spill prevention and response research.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the settlement “brings us one step closer to justice for the human, environmental, and economic devastation wrought by the Deepwater Horizon disaster,” and that the agreement “holds Transocean accountable for its conduct.”
The agreement was filed Thursday in federal court in Louisiana where it will await approval by a judge.