Court to deny Transocean Ltd’s request to protect itself against civil penalties
The U.S. Justice Department has asked a district court to deny offshore oil drilling contractor Transocean Ltd’s request to protect itself against civil penalties stemming from last year’s record oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
In November, Transocean said in a court filing that BP must indemnify it for damages arising from what it called BP’s failure to contain the flow from its Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, regardless of who was negligent or else at fault.
Transocean had requested the court to issue a “partial summary judgement” in its favor.
In a filing with the U.S. District Court in New Orleans on Thursday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Transocean’s motion seeks to resolve issues that must be analyzed based on evidence yet to be presented.
“At trial, the U.S. respectfully believes it will establish that Transocean’s acts and omissions in this case amounted to willful misconduct that obviates the indemnity,” DOJ said in the filing.
The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig’s April 20, 2010 explosion caused 11 deaths and led to the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
Transocean owned the rig, while BP owned a majority of the Macondo well whose blowout led to the spill.
DOJ argued that if the court finds that Transocean engaged in willful misconduct, the indemnity provision in Transocean’s contract would not apply.
“The court cannot find that Transocean is entitled to partial summary judgment without resolving genuine issues of material fact going to Transocean’s conduct,” DOJ said in the filing.
Transocean could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters outside regular U.S. business hours.
The case is In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig “Deepwater Horizon” in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, No. 10-md-02179.