ZURICH, SWITZERLAND – A subsidiary of Transocean, the world’s largest offshore oil rig company, which has been based in Switzerland since 2008, has agreed to plead guilty to one misdemeanor, according to the company, and to pay $1.4 billion to settle its part in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in New Orleans.
The spill is the “largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry”, according to Wikipedia.
The company will pay out $560 million in 2013, with the rest in payments over the four following years, the company says in a statement.
“A Transocean subsidiary has agreed to plead guilty to one misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA) for negligent discharge of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and pay $1.4 billion in fines, recoveries and penalties, excluding interest. This resolution will result in the Department of Justice concluding its criminal investigation of Transocean and settling its claims for civil penalties against the company relating to the spill from BP’s Macondo well. The company intends to satisfy its payment obligations over a period of five years, using cash on hand and cash flow from operations. At September 30, 2012, Transocean had accrued an estimated loss contingency of $1.5 billion associated with claims made by the Department of Justice.”
The company is one of three main companies facing charges related to the spill. The others are BP Exploration and Production and Anadarko Petroleum Corporation.
Transocean in 2008 moved its headquarters to Switzerland from the Cayman Islands. The company’s largest offices are in Texas, in the US. It is a Swiss registered company, in Zug, with its executive management team based in Geneva. The company was admitted to the Swiss stock market in 2010.
The US Department of Justice, in its statement 3 January about the settlement, used a more accusatory tone, with US Attorney General Eric Holder saying that the “agreement holds Transocean criminally accountable for its conduct”, and it provides nearly a billion dollars for the benefit of the Gulf states.
The statement notes:
“Transocean Deepwater Inc. has signed a cooperation and guilty plea agreement with the government, also filed today, admitting its criminal conduct. As part of the plea agreement, Transocean Deepwater Inc. has agreed, subject to the court’s approval, to pay $400 million in criminal fines and penalties and to continue its on-going cooperation in the government’s criminal investigation. In addition, pursuant to the terms of a proposed partial civil consent decree also lodged with the court today, Transocean Ocean Holdings LLC, Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc., Transocean Deepwater Inc. and Triton Asset Leasing GMBH have agreed to pay an additional $1 billion to resolve federal Clean Water Act civil penalty claims for the massive, three-month-long oil spill at the Macondo Well and the Transocean drilling rig Deepwater Horizon. Under the civil settlement, the Transocean defendants also must implement court-enforceable measures to improve the operational safety and emergency response capabilities at all their drilling rigs working in waters of the United States.”