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Despite Gulf oil spill, rig owner executives get big bonuses

By the CNN Wire Staff
Transocean declared 2010 "the best year in safety performance" in company history despite the Gulf oil spill.
Transocean declared 2010 "the best year in safety performance" in company history despite the Gulf oil spill.
  • Transocean executives get pay raises, bonuses, SEC filing says
  • Cash awards based in part on company safety record
  • Despite Gulf oil spill, company claims 2010 "best year in safety"

(CNN) -- Declaring 2010 "the best year in safety performance in our company's history," Transocean Ltd., owner of the Gulf of Mexico oil rig that exploded, killing 11 workers, has awarded its top executives hefty bonuses and raises, according to a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

That includes a $200,000 salary increase for Transocean president and chief executive officer Steven L. Newman, whose base salary will increase from $900,000 to $1.1 million, according to the SEC report. Newman's bonus was $374,062, the report states.

Newman also has a $5.4 million long-term compensation package the company awarded him upon his appointment as CEO in March 2010, according to the SEC filing.

The latest cash awards are based in part on the company's "performance under safety," the Transocean filing states.

"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," the SEC statement reads. "As measured by these standards, we recorded the best year in safety performance in our Company's history."

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The company called that record "a reflection on our commitment to achieving an incident-free environment, all the time, everywhere," the SEC filing states.

The company did not respond to an e-mail from CNN seeking comment.

The April 20, 2010, explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig injured 17 workers and killed 11 others, including nine Transocean employees, according to the SEC filing. It has been called the worst spill in U.S. history.

The well was capped three months later, but not before millions of barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf.

In January, President Barack Obama's National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling released a report that spread blame for the accident among Transocean, BP -- which leased the rig -- and Halliburton, which installed the rig's cement casing.

The commission said problems with deepwater drilling are "systemic" and that only "significant reform" will prevent another disaster.

Another report released March 23 determined that the oil spill was caused by a piece of drill pipe trapped in the rig platform's blowout preventer, a device intended to stop oil from flowing into the Gulf. The report was commissioned by various U.S. agencies, including the Interior Department and the Department of Homeland Security.

The Interior Department has said a much broader report that relies on additional sources of data -- including eyewitness accounts and photographs -- will be released this summer.

The oil spill has prompted a flood of lawsuits against BP, Transocean and Halliburton from a variety of plaintiffs, including owners of Gulf shore businesses who claim they suffered heavy financial losses because of the spill.

The plaintiffs also include Transocean shareholders who contend the company falsely claimed it had remedied past safety problems with its blowout preventers, prior to the Gulf spill.

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