The Lookout

Transocean awards safety bonuses to execs, BP vies to resume Gulf oil exploration

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As The Lookout reported last week, corporations doled out skyrocketing bonuses to executives in 2010, while the average worker keeps putt-putting along. And now comes news that executives at Transocean—which owned the Deepwater Horizon platform  that blew up and claimed the lives of 11 oil workers while touching off the BP oil spill—are collecting safety bonuses for their performance in 2010.

While noting "the tragic loss of life" in the incident that led to last summer's Gulf disaster, the company said in a regulatory filing that it would pay two-thirds of a possible safety bonus to senior managers because—outside of the Deepwater Horizon explosion—the company's 2010 safety record was "exemplary," claiming it was "the best year in safety performance in our company's history."

Transocean is one of three main parties involved in the disaster—together with BP and Halliburton—and the official verdict is still not in on how much responsibility it bears. Just last week, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement director Michael Bromwich accused Transocean of stonewalling investigations into the causes of the incident. Until the bureau can effectively gather and cull that information, Bromwich, explained, investigators cannot determine what kind of fines to assess among the three companies involved in the disaster.

"In my judgment, this is less a legal issue than one of whether Transocean recognizes its moral and corporate responsibility to cooperate with an investigation into the causal factors of the most significant oil spill in United States history," Bromwich wrote in a letter to the company.

Meanwhile, BP is lobbying to resume drilling operations in the Gulf. Citing a source familiar with negotiations between the company and federal regulators, the New York Times reported that "BP is seeking permission to continue drilling at 10 existing deepwater production and development wells in the region in July in exchange for adhering to stricter safety and supervisory rules." On Monday, however, US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar flatly denied that his agency had any plans to reissue drilling permits to BP.

The news coincides with word that BP is shutting down a significant portion of its remaining cleanup apparatus, despite still-frequent reports of oil washing up along the Gulf Coast.

"There's not a day goes by that I don't hear about somebody seeing oil, not to mention that I see it and smell it myself on a daily basis," Grand Isle, La. based seafood wholesaler Dean Blanchard told us last week, a point he reiterated days later at a town hall meeting. "It's still out there all over the place. But they're pulling their cleanup people out left and right."

(U.S. Coast Guard/AP)

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