Transocean to outline preliminary Deepwater Horizon findings

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, Nov. 5 -- Transocean Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Steven Newman said his company plans to testify next week in Washington, DC, on the drilling contractor’s preliminary findings of its investigation into the Apr. 20 explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible that killed 11 workers.

"I want to assure you that our focus is squarely on the execution of safe and efficient operations around the world and the resolution of Macondo-related litigation and public policy issues," Newman said during a Nov. 4 third-quarter earnings call with analysts.

Transocean maintains its Deepwater Horizon semi was drilling the deepwater Macondo well at the direction of BP PLC, operator of Macondo. Although Transocean believes it’s protected from liability in its contract with BP, Transocean has been named in some 290 Macondo-related lawsuits. 

On Nov. 8-9, Transocean is scheduled to present its findings during public hearings before the National Oil Spill Commission. The commission, appointed by US President Barack Obama, also is expected to present its tentative findings on possible causes of the Macondo blowout.

Transocean’s final report will be ready in late 2010 or early 2011, Newman said. Currently, Transocean is finalizing its conclusions and awaiting federally ordered inspection results on the Deepwater Horizon's failed blowout preventer.

Previously, BP released its internal investigation report into the Macondo blowout. Ongoing investigations under way include a joint inquiry by the US Coast Guard and Department of the Interior as well as a probe by the Department of Justice.

For the third quarter, Transocean reported a $368 million net income compared with third-quarter 2009 net income of $710 million. The latest financial results included Deepwater Horizon-related costs of $22 million after taxes along with $14 million in charges related to other legal matters and a $22 million loss on debt retirement.

Newman said he expects a "gradual return to normal" in oil and gas activity in the Gulf of Mexico. He also expects strengthening demand for deepwater rigs worldwide in 2011.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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