| NEW ORLEANS, March 19
NEW ORLEANS, March 19 The chief executive of
Transocean Ltd, owner of the rig destroyed after BP
Plc's Macondo well blew out in 2010, told a federal judge
on Tuesday that his workers made mistakes that day, but were not
responsible for overall safety on the rig.
Steven Newman, who had been CEO for less than two months
when the blowout occurred, was emotional at times as he spoke of
the company's role and responsibilities on the well prior to the
explosion that killed 11 people and caused the worst-ever
offshore oil spill in the United States.
"We acknowledge that we should have done more," he said
under gentle questioning by a lawyer for Transocean, in the
fourth week of a civil trial to determine blame for the spill.
Newman's voice shook as he spoke of the disaster on the
Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20, 2010, but he denied that
Transocean cut corners when it came to safety procedures.
Noting that the rig contractor is compensated by a daily
rate paid for providing and operating the rig, he said: "We get
paid for 24 hours worth of work, so there's no incentive to take
24 hours worth of work and condense it into 23 hours."
The Justice Department, the U.S. Gulf states affected and
other plaintiffs are suing BP, Transocean and other companies
for economic and environmental damages related to the spill.
BP executives have accepted the company's role in the
accident, but believe Transcoean and well cementing provider
Halliburton Co share the blame.
Newman said Transocean was responsible for safely performing
its own operations on the rig, but that overall responsibility
for safety at the well site rested solely with BP.
In the same New Orleans federal court two weeks ago before
Judge Carl Barbier, a Transocean worker who was on the Deepwater
Horizon during the blowout acknowledged there was a
misinterpretation of trouble signs beforehand.
Transocean in January pleaded guilty to federal charges
connected with violating the Clean Water Act and agreed to pay
$1.4 billion in criminal and civil fines and penalties.
In its plea, Transocean also admitted that members of its
staff were negligent in failing to investigate signs the well
was not secure and that oil and gas were flowing into the well.
Before Judge Barbier, BP must show its own mistakes do not
meet the legal definition of gross negligence required for the
highest amount of damages. BP has already spent or committed $37
billion on cleanup, restoration, payouts, settlements and fines.
On top of that, liabilities could stretch into the tens of
billions of dollars if Barbier determines BP or other defendants
were grossly negligent.
Oil from the spill came ashore from Texas to Florida,
threatening livelihoods and state economies dependent on seafood
and tourism, making the list of plaintiffs a long one.
The case is In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater
Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, No.
10-md-02179, in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of
(Editing by Braden Reddall, G Crosse)