Lawsuits piling up against Transocean

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Aug 6, 2010

HOUSTON (Legal Newsline) - Close to 250 lawsuits or claims have been filed against Transocean, the company that owns the BP-leased offshore rig behind the Gulf oil spill, according to a filing by the firm Thursday.

An explosion and fire occurred on Transocean's drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, licensed to BP, on April 20, killing 11 workers and resulting in the largest offshore spill in U.S. history.

"As of Aug. 2, 2010, 249 legal actions or claims have been filed against Transocean entities, along with other unaffiliated defendants, in state and federal courts," said the Swiss-based group.

"We are evaluating all claims and intend to pursue any and all defenses available," it added in its quarterly report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Additionally, government agencies have initiated investigations into the Macondo incident.

Alabama Attorney General Troy King announced late last month he was preparing a lawsuit against BP and the others responsible for the oil spill to make up for lost tax revenue.

King described the spill as "the largest legal disaster ever encountered," and said the state would be working for years to rebuild its economy.

Also late last month, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour asked the state's Attorney General Jim Hood to refrain from filing a lawsuit against BP following the spill.

In a letter to Hood, Barbour asked him to wait until the claims process and the Natural Resource Damage Assessment have a chance to work. A lawsuit, the governor said, may interrupt the payment of claims.

Transocean filed a petition in a U.S. court in May to limit its liability in the spill to $27 million.

"We believe we are not responsible for the discharged hydrocarbons from the Macondo well," Transocean reiterated in its report to the SEC.

At 4.9 million barrels, the disaster is the biggest maritime spill on record.

BP got the go ahead Thursday to seal the well in with cement, one of the final steps to plug the oil spill at the center of the worst U.S. environmental disaster.

Transocean on Wednesday reported an 11.3 percent net drop in profits for the second quarter to $715 million.

Insurance companies are paying $267 million in compensation to the company after the offshore rig was destroyed in the fire on April 20, it said.

For Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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