Transocean, owner of oil rig in Gulf spill, says it had its ‘best year’ for safety

Transocean said it “recorded the best year in safety performance in our Company’s history,” despite the blowout on its Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that killed 11 workers and triggered the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The company’s proxy statement said that “notwithstanding the tragic loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico, we achieved an exemplary statistical safety record as measured by our total recordable incident rate . . . and total potential severity rate.”

The company also awarded bonuses to its top executives, even though 25 percent of the bonus was based on “safety performance.” The proxy said that because of “the fatalities that occurred in 2010,” the board’s compensation committee “exercised its discretionary authority” and reduced the bonus payouts from 115 percent to 67.4 percent.

Transocean chief Steven L. Newman, whose base salary was increased from $900,000 to $1.1 million a year, received a bonus payment, a stock award and other payments, bringing his total compensation in 2010 to $6.3 million.

The proxy said the board’s compensation committee determined the bonus payments “were appropriate in recognition of the Company’s achievement of the objectives set at the beginning of 2010 relating to significantly improving the Company’s safety record.”

Transocean was the owner and operator of the Deepwater Horizon, the massive drilling rig worth more than a half-billion dollars that sank last April after the blowout ignited a fire on the rig. Transocean owns the world’s largest fleet of deep­water drilling rigs.

Steven Mufson covers energy and other financial news.
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