Offshore drilling contractor Transocean has announced that it will pay $1.4 billion over five years in civil and criminal fines years for its role in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The Switzerland-based company, owner of the semi-submersible rig that caught fire and sank in June 2010, resulting in a wellhead blowout that pumped more than two hundred million gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act. As part the plea bargain, the U.S. Department of Justice has agreed to conclude its criminal investigation of the company and consider its claims for civil penalties against the company relating to the spill settled.
According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Transocean will pay $400 million in criminal fines and penalties, including $100 million to the Department of Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement for improvements to offshore drilling safety practices. The company also agreed to pay $150 million over three years to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for coastal restoration projects and $150 million over five years to the National Academy of Sciences for scientific studies and activities focused on habitat protection and human health in the Gulf region. In addition, the company agreed to implement certain measures, to be developed with the participation of the U.S. government, to prevent a recurrence of the uncontrolled discharge of hydrocarbons into the Gulf ecosystem.
"These important agreements, which the company believes to be in the best interest of its shareholders and employees, remove much of the uncertainty associated with the accident," said Transocean in an online statement. "This is a positive step forward, but it is also a time to reflect on the eleven men who lost their lives aboard the Deepwater Horizon. Their families continue to be in the thoughts and prayers of all of us at Transocean."