Transocean to pay $1.4 billion in Gulf oil spill settlement

The drilling contractor will also plead guilty to one criminal misdemeanor in connection with the 4.9 million barrel spill

Transocean Deepwater Inc. has agreed to pay $1.4 billion to resolve all federal civil and criminal charges related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Thursday.

The 2010 spill occurred when an explosion on the Transocean-owned Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed 11 workers and leaked 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

As part of the settlement, the Swiss offshore drilling contractor will pay a $1 billion fine for violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA), shell out $150 million each to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences for cleanup and conservation efforts and plead guilty to one criminal misdemeanor violation of the CWA, according to the DOJ. The total settlement amount is lower than many analysts had predicted, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Transocean’s rig crew accepted the direction of BP well site leaders to proceed in the face of clear danger signs—at a tragic cost to many of them,” Lanny Breuer, assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s Criminal Division, said in a statement. “Transocean’s agreement to plead guilty to a federal crime, and to pay a total of $1.4 billion in criminal and civil penalties, appropriately reflects its role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster.”

In its own statement, Transocean called the settlement “a positive step forward” and noted that the agreements “remove much of the uncertainty associated with the accident.”

In November, BP Plc agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal counts and pay $4.5 billion to settle criminal claims from the DOJ and Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with the spill. In a statement Thursday, BP acknowledged Transocean for “finally starting…to do its part for the Gulf Coast,” while chiding Halliburton—the company that cemented the exploded well—for “contin[uing] to deny its significant role in the accident.”

For more InsideCounsel coverage of Transocean and BP, see:

Transocean GC resigns, effective immediately

BP enters plea in Gulf oil spill criminal case

BP will pay $4.5 billion in Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement

BP, plaintiffs ask judge to approve $7.8 billion oil spill settlement

Feds to pursue gross negligence claims in BP oil spill case

Alanna Byrne

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