Transocean: wording on 2010 safety may have been insensitive

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Transocean Ltd acknowledged that its description of 2010 as its “best year in safety” despite a blowout that sank one of its rigs, killing 11 workers and causing a huge oil spill, might be insensitive.

In a filing with U.S. financial regulators on Friday, Transocean had said it achieved an “exemplary” safety record last year as measured by its total recordable incident rate and total potential severity rate.

But Ihab Toma, the company’s executive vice president of global business, said some wording in that statement “may have been insensitive” given the Deepwater Horizon accident caused by a blown-out BP well in the Gulf of Mexico last year.

“Nothing in the proxy was intended to minimize this tragedy or diminish the impact it has had on those who lost loved ones. Everyone at Transocean continues to mourn the loss of these friends and colleagues.” Toma said in a statement on Monday.

Earlier on Monday, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had disputed Transocean’s claim that its safety record last year justified executives’ safety bonuses. He told reporters on a conference call that Transocean was “at some fault” for causing millions of barrels of crude oil to leak from the underwater well.

On Friday, the head of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management had chastised Transocean Chief Executive Steven Newman for not doing more to encourage two employees to attend a hearing this week for the government’s probe of the oil spill.

The hearing is examining why the rig’s blowout preventer failed to stop what eventually became the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Newman, who became CEO of the rig contractor less than two months before the April 20 blow-out, received $6.4 million in 2010, including $850,000 in base pay and a $5.4 million long-term incentive award, according to the filing on Friday.

(Reporting by Braden Reddall; editing by Carol Bishopric)

Transocean: wording on 2010 safety may have been insensitive