Cal Dive to pay $2 million to settle US DOJ charges

Nick Snow
Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 27 -- Cal Dive International Inc. and its parent, Helix Energy Solutions Group Inc., agreed to pay $2 million as part of a settlement to resolve alleged violations of a 2005 consent decree, the US Department of Justice said on Nov. 26.

DOJ said the Houston marine contractor violated provisions of a decree mandated when the company acquired assets from Stolt Offshore Inc. and S&H Diving LLC. It required the sale of two saturation diving vessels and another, separate saturation diving system.

Saturation diving services in the Gulf of Mexico are used for subsea construction projects; for inspection, maintenance, and repair services; and for recovery and salvage after offshore structures are damaged by weather or accident, according to DOJ. By living in air-tight chambers aboard diving vessels in which the air pressure equals pressure at the subsea work site, saturation divers can work for longer periods and in deeper water than surface divers, it said.

It said Cal Dive and Stolt were two of only three major saturation diving service providers in the Gulf, and the transaction eliminated Stolt as a competitor and would have given Cal Dive more than half of the capacity in the market.

Cal Dive failed to sell the vessels and diving system promptly and continued to use the Seaway Defender vessel, profiting from cleanup work following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, according to DOJ. Ultimately, a court-appointed trustee sold the assets after the company failed to do so within the period specified by the consent decree, it said.

The $2 million payment represents profits gained as a result of not selling the assets and reimbursement to DOJ for investigation costs, the federal department said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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