Is This Expert’s Testimony Damaging for Transocean?

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oil-rig-fire-gulf-mexico_19338_600x450The civil lawsuit brought against Transocean (NYSE:RIG) — whose Deepwater Horizon rig, under contract with BP (NYSE:BP), experienced a surge of gas in April 2010 that killed 11 workers and spewed 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico — has brought to light some very damaging information.

Edward Webster, an expert in marine engineering, testified Thursday in New Orleans district court, and showed that Transocean’s computerized maintenance system report for the Deepwater Horizon — dated just one day before the incident — listed 222 overdue maintenance tasks, including 76 “high priority” jobs.’’ According to his statement, acquired by Bloomberg, safety systems and equipment had been due for maintenance or repairs for months, or in some instances, years.

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“This shows gross negligence to the rig,” Webster said, adding that the maintenance history was also “recklessly kept.”

Along with Transocean, both BP and cement services provider Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) have been hit with numerous of lawsuits for their involvement in the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry; the civil trial in Louisiana is only the most recent. A nonjury trial over liability for the disaster began on February 25, and U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier was charged with determining responsibility for the spill and whether one or more of the three companies acted with gross negligence. A charge of gross negligence implies that the participants acted recklessly or willfully disregarded human and environmental safety.

For BP, this charge would result in punitive damages amounting to a fine of $4,300 per barrel of oil spilled under the Clean Water Act, which would add up to approximately $17.6 billion. In comparison, Transocean and Halliburton would be held liable for punitive damages for all plaintiffs…

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