Politics

Transocean to give shareholders $1 billion while trying to cap its responsibility for Gulf spill at $27 million.

TransoceanCEO Transocean, Ltd., the giant oil contractor that leased its Deepwater Horizon rig to BP, held a “closed-door meeting” with shareholders Friday, “just days after” executives appeared before Congress to explain the company’s role in the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill. As ThinkProgress noted, the meeting took place at the company’s headquarters in Zug, Switzerland, where Transocean relocated two years ago to avoid paying taxes. Though CEO Steven Newman “ignored questions from reporters,” the company said in a statement that it would distribute $1 billion in dividends to shareholders:

The revelation that Transocean is distributing a $1 billion profit to shareholders as one of its drill sites leaks millions of gallons of oil into the sea is sure to inflame an already smarting debate over offshore drilling and the company’s role.[…]

To put the distribution in perspective, the amount of profit that Transocean plans to pay out in the next year is half of what Exxon ultimately paid for the Exxon Valdez disaster off the Alaska Coast.

It’s also more than double what BP has said they’ve spent on the cleanup to date.

Meanwhile, Transocean has “passionately argued” to limit its financial responsibility for the disaster. The company filed a court request last week to cap its liability under $27 million, a paltry sum considering BP has already spent over $450 million on cleanup, and analysts estimate the effort could ultimately cost up to $8 billion. As Raw Story notes, Transocean has actually made money from the disaster, collecting over $400 million from insurers, leaving it with a profit of $270 million after the costs of the rig are subtracted. As maritime attorney Jeff Seely told NPR, “They are the only people who have been compensated for this tragedy. The decedents [of the 11 workers killed in an explosion on the rig] haven’t been the compensated. The injured people who still are suffering, all the fishermen out in the Gulf that can no longer work haven’t been compensated.”