Transocean blames BP for Gulf spill, faces tax rap

Rig owner largely blames BP for fatal disaster, denies evasion charges

Company report differs from BP and US government analyses, denies tax evasion. GETTY IMAGES
Company report differs from BP and US government analyses, denies tax evasion. GETTY IMAGES

Swiss firm Transocean, which lost it's Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, has laid the blame for the explosion and subsequent spill largely at the feet of BP.

In an extensive report, which in parts diverges from US government analyses of the disaster, Transocean acknowledges some failings but what it describes at "the incident” it states, was caused by “a succession of interrelated well design, construction and temporary abandonment decisions that compromised the integrity of the well and compounded the risk of failure.”

"Temporary abadonment" effectively blames BP as it is a process of plugging a well after initial drilling so that new equipment can be brought in to complete the well in order for production to begin; the report states that BP engineers produced at least five such plans for the well from April 12 to April 20, the day of the blast. 

The report does not hesitate that the decisions, “many made by the operator, BP, in the two weeks leading up to the incident,” were “driven by BP’s knowledge that the geological window for safe drilling was becoming increasingly narrow.”

The report also criticises Halliburton, who were charged by BP with the task of sealing the well. “The resulting cement programme was of minimal quantity, left little margin for error, and was not tested adequately before or after the cementing operation,” Transocean said.

While the report stated it did not “represent the legal position of Transocean, nor does it attempt to assign legal responsibility or fault,” a BP spokesman branded the report "an advocacy piece" according to the New York Times.

An investigation by the US Coast Guard released in April criticised Transocean and found that the halting of the spill was complicated by “numerous system deficiencies, and acts and omissions” by the company and its crew on the rig, according to the Financial Times.

In other news, Transocean face acharges of tax evasion after an investigation by Norway's financial crimes unit, Okokrim. 

The charges of gross tax fraud and breaches of accounting law concern two Norwegian subsidiaries of the contractor and relate to tax that is allegedly owed on the sale of 12 rigs to Cayman Islands-registered companies, financial crimes unit Okokrim stated on its website

The indictment also implicates member of Ernst & Young, Transocean's auditors, for having “aided and abetted in providing incorrect or incomplete information” to the tax authorities while acting as consultants for Transocean between 1990 and 2006.

Transocean and Ernst & Young have denied the charges.

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