Huge win for Transocean removes the company from liability for underwater oil spill

By Kyle Barnett | Feb 23, 2012

U.S. Federal Judge Carl Barbier

NEW ORLEANS – U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ruled in favor of a Transocean motion relieving the Deepwater Horizon rig owner from liability for oil spilled from the Macondo wellhead itself.

Barbier ruled Transocean is released from civil penalties under the Clean Water Act because the oil spilled from below the surface of the water rather than the rig itself.

The ruling found that Transocean was clearly a drilling contractor and not the well's operator. Barbier wrote while the United States argued Transocean was liable for the entirety of the spill it provided no evidence for its argument and that instead all evidence points to liability of the operators of the Macondo well including BP and Anadrako.

MOEX was a partner in the well, but transferred their share to BP in a settlement.

The ruling stated it was undisputed that Transocean should be free from penalties under the Oil Spill Pollution Act of 1990 which would require per barrel penalty provisions. However, Transocean may still be responsible for oil discharged on or above the water.

At the time of this report, Transocean's shares were up two percent.

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