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April 12th, 2012

Judge Rules Transocean Need Not Pay Pollution-Related Compensatory Damages

Ever since the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, maritime law attorneys have found Transocean and BP battling over liability and damages. A judge has ruled that Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, does not have to pay any compensatory damages arising out of the marine pollution that resulted after the disaster.

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in April 2010 killed 11 people, and was the worst maritime disaster in decades. It also triggered the worst environmental spill in recent American history.

According to US District Judge Carl Barbier, BP is required to indemnify Transocean against compensatory damages arising out of the disaster. The judge upheld some parts of the indemnity agreement between Transocean and BP. He did agree with Transocean that the company should not have to pay out any damages arising from damage claims resulting from oil that spilled below the ocean surface. With this decision, Transocean will save billions of dollars in potential pollution damages claims.

However, the company is not protected from punitive damages claims and civil penalties for pollution damage as a result of the Federal Clean Water Act.

Several investigations since the Deepwater Horizon explosion have laid the blame for the tragedy at BP’s door. However, investigations have also blamed Transocean, which owned the rig, as well as Halliburton, the company that performed the cementing job on the well.

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