Transocean outlines indemnity language in Deepwater Horizon contract

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, Aug. 19 -- Transocean Ltd., owner of the Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible drilling rig, filed a quarterly report with the US Securities and Exchange Commission outlining 206 claims filed against it as of June 30 in various state and federal courts concerning the Apr. 20 rig explosion.

The Deepwater Horizon semi drilled the Macondo well for BP PLC and its partners. A well blowout set off an explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon, which sank Apr. 22. The Macondo well is in 5,000 ft of water on Mississippi Canyon Block 252 about 40 miles off Louisiana.

“We believe we are entitled to contractual defense and indemnity for all wrongful death and personal injury claims made by non-employees and third-party subcontractors’ employees as well as all liabilities for pollution or contamination, other than for pollution or contamination originating on or above the surface of the water,” Transocean said in its 10-Q filing with the SEC.

Since the blowout, a team of scientists from federal agencies and universities estimates the well leaked 4.9 million bbl of oil, of which 800,000 bbl were captured and diverted from spilling into the gulf.

The 10-Q specified some language from the Deepwater Horizon contract with BP. Under the terms, BP agreed to “assume full responsibility for and defend, release, and indemnify [Transocean] from any loss, expense, claim, fine, penalty, or liability for pollution or contamination.”

Transocean said it faces Macondo-related wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits as well as class-action lawsuits alleging economic loss as a result of environmental pollution arising out of the oil spill.

Three securities class-action lawsuits have been filed since April in federal courts naming Transocean. In June, two shareholder derivative suits were filed against the drilling contractor.

Withholding evidence
The Associated Press wire service on Aug. 19 reported Transocean accused BP of withholding critical evidence needed to investigate the cause of the accident. AP said it obtained a confidential letter that Transocean attorneys sent to BP saying BP’s refusal to hand over some documents has hindered Transocean’s investigation into the accident.

National Incident Commander and retired US Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen told reporters during a conference call on Aug. 19 that he was not aware of Tranoscean’s letter and could not comment about it.

When asked if BP withheld information vital to the government, Allen said, “None that I am aware of.”

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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