On Friday, Transocean, the company that operated the infamous Deepwater Horizon oil rig, told its shareholders that it gave its executives multi-million-dollar bonuses based on the company’s “best year in safety performance.” Today, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar lashed out at the global offshore drilling company, which moved its official headquarters from Houston to Zug, Switzerland in 2008 in order to avoid paying taxes to the United States government. In a statement to ThinkProgress, Salazar criticized the company’s “complacency” about the explosion that killed 11 people, spewed 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and caused irreparable damage to Gulf communities:
At the end of the day, it was that complacency that created an oil spill that was pouring over 50 thousand barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico a day.
Using the justification of the company’s “exemplary statistical safety record,” Transocean’s executive compensation committee — GenOn Energy CEO Edward R. Muller, oil industry lawyer Martin B. McNamara, and retired Shell executive Robert Sprague — granted CEO Stewart Newman $6.3 million in bonus and “incentive compensation.”
“Transocean just doesn’t get it,” presidential oil spill commissioner William Reilly said in the conference call with Salazar. Reilly’s commission found that “systemic failures by industry management” and a “culture of complacency” were at the root of the disaster that Salazar characterized as a “nightmare” and “tragedy.”
Transocean admitted this afternoon to CNN that its language “may have been insensitive,” but made no apology for its multi-million dollar payouts:
We acknowledge that some of the wording in our 2010 proxy statement may have been insensitive in light of the incident that claimed the lives of eleven exceptional men last year and we deeply regret any pain that it may have caused. 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.