Transocean Wants Its Liability|Limited to Value of the Oil Rig

     HOUSTON (CN) – Transocean wants its liability for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill limited to the $26.7 million value of the oil rig. As owners and managers of the rig, Transocean and Triton Asset Leasing cite the Limitation of Liability Act, 46 USC 30501 et seq., to limit or exonerate them of responsibility to “all suits pending” and “any other suits against petitioners.”

     Eleven workers died in the April 20 explosion and 17 were injured. The still-leaking oil well is the biggest oil spill in history. Recent estimates say it may be dumping as much oil into the Gulf of Mexico every 4 days as was lost in the entire ExxonValdez catastrophe.
     Switzerland-based Triton and Houston-based Transocean claim the calamity is not their fault: “The above-described incident, any physical damage, personal injury, death, contingent losses, pollution, environmental damage, loss, destruction and damages were not caused or contributed to, done, occasioned and/or incurred by any fault, negligence, unseaworthiness, or lack of due care on the part of petitioners, or anyone for whom petitioners are or at any material time were responsible.”
     In its 14-page filing, Transocean and Triton claim they “have been made aware” that seven individuals “have retained counsel” and may file claims.
     The Courthouse News database records 111 claims filed over the disaster as of Friday afternoon, many of them class actions.
     In a nod to reality, Transocean acknowledged that it is “aware of potential claimants” in 15 states.
     It wants venue in Houston and wants liability limited to the value of Deepwater Horizon.
     It acknowledged that “The amount of the claims that are reasonably anticipated to arise from the events in question are expected to greatly exceed the amount and value of petitioners’ interest in MODU Deepwater Horizon.”
     But it wants to “contest any liability of themselves and the MODU Deepwater Horizon for any injuries and other losses,” and any claims under the US Oil Pollution Act, for oil gushing from the rig that sank 5,000 feet to bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.
     While not admitting liability, Transocean claims it is “entitled to have their liability, if any, limited to the amount or value of their interest as aforesaid in the MODU Deepwater Horizon following the events in question.”
     Transocean says it is prepared to place a bond with the court for its $26.7 million interest in the rig to satisfy all potential claims.
     Filing as plaintiffs are Transocean entities Triton Asset Lending GmbH, Transocean Holdings LLC, Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc. and Transocean Deepwater Inc.
     They filed as owners of the Deepwater Horizon rig. Triton Asset Lending GmbH is based in Zug, Switzerland; all the Transocean entities operate out of Houston.
     Transocean is represented by Frank Piccolo of Houston.

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