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Company rewards executives despite Gulf oil spill

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) April 2, 2011
Transocean Ltd. has given its executives pay raises, bonuses and stock options after the company's "best year" for safety, despite a deadly oil platform explosion and massive leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

"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," Transocean said in a filing Friday to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

"As measured by these standards, we recorded the best year in safety performance in our company's history, which is a reflection on our commitment to achieving an incident-free environment, all the time, everywhere."

Nine of the 11 people killed in the April 20, 2010, explosion on the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon platform were Transocean employees. Seventeen other people were wounded.

After the explosion, more than 205 million gallons of oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico, fouling US shorelines, scaring off tourists and closing rich shrimp and fishing grounds.

Transocean, the world's largest offshore oil and gas drilling contractor, filed its annual report to the SEC and invited shareholders to its annual general meeting May 13 in Switzerland, where the company is based.

"Although in 2010 we made significant progress in achieving our strategic and operational objectives for the year, these developments were overshadowed by the April 20, 2010 fire and explosion," the company said.

The firm decided to reward its executives, according to a compensation policy "based on their ability to achieve annual operational objectives that further our long-term business objectives and to create sustainable long-term shareholder value in a cost-effective manner."

Top executives received a base salary increase averaging 3.8 percent, excluding the chief executive officer, "whose base salary reflected his promotion into the CEO role."

They received performance bonuses of 44.8 percent of the maximum stipulated in their contract.

In addition, they were given stock options "ranging from $1.2 million to $5.4 million designed to satisfy competitive market concerns and reward individual performance during fiscal 2010," the company's report stated.

Transocean claims that BP is solely responsible for the explosion and oil spill, but BP sees the responsibilities as shared.

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