Gulf Spill Rig Owner: Well Done, Execs!

You just can’t make this stuff up.  Transocean, the company that owned the Deepwater Horizon oil rig at the center of last summer’s Gulf oil spill, is giving bonuses to its executives for outstanding achievements in safety.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal:

The payout contrasts with that for 2009, when the company withheld all executive bonuses after incurring four fatalities that year “to underscore the company’s commitment to safety.”

In a filing on executive pay, Transocean said, “Notwithstanding the tragic loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico, we achieved an exemplary statistical safety record.” Based on the total rate of incidents and their severity, “we recorded the best year in safety performance in our company’s history.”

A Transocean rig in the Gulf of Mexico (photo: BP America)

Transocean, along with BP and Halliburton, is under investigation by the US Department of Justice for its role in the disaster.  The Hill‘s E2 blog reports that government officials are irate at the news.  Former EPA chief William K. Reilly, who helped lead the Obama Administration’s analysis of what went wrong, had harsh words for the company:

“I think Transocean just doesn’t get it […]  It’s embarrassing to see a position taken like that by an industry leader.”

The SEC filing “ought to be evidence No. 1” of the culture of complacency within the oil industry identified in the oil spill commission’s final report, Reilly said.

Unbelievable.  Instead of giving themselves pats on the back, maybe Transocean should make good on its responsibilities to the people and wildlife in the Gulf, who are still waiting for money for restoration projects to rebuild their wetlands, fisheries, and coastlines.


UPDATE: 4/5/2011 — Transocean is scrambling into damage-control mode, issuing a statement yesterday to apologize for their wording–but not for the bonuses themselves: “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,” the company said in the release.  “Nothing in the [SEC filing] was intended to minimize this tragedy or diminish the impact it has had on those who lost loved ones. Everyone at Transocean continues to mourn the loss of these friends and colleagues.”

Transocean President/CEO Steven Newman received a combined bonus and salary increase of $574,062 for his sterling leadership.


You can read about NWF’s efforts to help Gulf wildlife and communities at

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Published: April 4, 2011