Deepwater Horizon Blowout, Explosion & Oil Spill

Representing Individuals & Businesses Harmed by the Gulf Coast Oil Spill

On April 20th, 2010 an oil rig owned by Transocean, and leased by BP, suffered what appeared to be a blowout. The blowout preventer (BOP), a mandatory safety device, did not function and failed to prevent the devastating explosion that eventually caused the Deepwater Horizon to sink. 11 seamen lost their lives and hundreds more suffered physical and emotional trauma. Despite public commitments to care for their workers, clean-up the oil spill and protect our environment, both BP and Transocean are making legal moves to limit their obligations.

The Deepwater Horizon Case

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People & Businesses Affected by the Explosion & Resulting Oil Spill

Although this was considered the worst environmental disaster the United States has ever seen, the damages affected more than just the environment. Thousands of people in various industries along the Gulf suffered financially. One major group affected was the commercial fishing industry. Marine life suffered significant loss, leaving fish in the Gulf even today with traces of contamination. In fact, the seafood industry as a whole suffered a huge blow as a result. Oyster farmers were affected by the oil slick as were commercial shrimpers. Even now, many people have a hard time trusting seafood that comes from the Gulf Coast. A last major group affected by the spill were those in the Florida vacationing business. Despite efforts to advertise that Florida beaches were unaffected by the spill, the hotel and tourism industry suffered significantly.

The negligent consequences of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill will cost billions and have left many with legitimate legal claims, including people such as:

  • Injured maritime workers
  • Injured response & rescue personnel
  • Family members of injury victims
  • Commercial fishermen, shrimpers, oyster farmers
  • Anyone with financial damages from the oil spill

Many maritime workers suffered substantial injuries as a result of the explosion. Those who worked on the Deepwater Horizon and in surrounding fields suffered significant injury. The explosion caused extreme heat to emanate from the blast, causing many to sustain burn injuries as well as hearing loss. The initial explosion even killed 11 maritime workers. Many were left suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Key Parties Involved in the BP Oil Spill

The chief offender was undoubtedly British Petroleum. BP was blamed for making a series of bad decisions which led up to the spill. They were found guilty of not just one negligent action, but a series of negligent decisions that led to the biggest environmental disaster the United States has ever seen. Many claims were also filed against Cameron International Corporation which was the company responsible for preventing blowout. BP themselves filed claims against Cameron as well as Transocean and Halliburton. Transocean was the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig and Halliburton was the company employed to do the cementing at the Macondo well. These claims were made on the basis of irresponsible patterns of behavior that led to failed safety at the drill site.

Below you will find a list of all the parties involved in the BP oil spill of 2010:

Possible Incident Causes

There wasn't a finger left that wasn't pointing at someone else after the Deepwater Horizon exploded. The main culprit was undoubtedly BP, but BP also cited three major causes that likely contributed to the explosion and ensuing spill. The first possible cause was the failure of the blowout preventer system. These types of systems are typically in place to stop the flow of oil in the event of an accident. Obviously, the blowout preventer did not function as it should have in this case. Halliburton, the company responsible for the cementing, was also blamed for partial fault in the spill. The sealing process may have left weak points which may have caused the failure. Cementing flaws are commonly the cause of oil well blowouts. One of the last major possible causes of the blowout is said to have been methane pockets which may have been the natural cause.

The Limitation of Liability Act & Transocean Executive Bonuses

No one was willing to accept the blame. Transocean came under fire for attempting to use the Limitation of Liability Act to reduce its liability for economic damages to $26.7 million, a mere fraction of the losses the explosion and spill caused.

Transocean came under fire again when it awarded employees two-thirds of their maximum safety bonuses for 2010, the same year the Deepwater Horizon exploded, claiming in a regulatory filing that, “Notwithstanding the tragic loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico, we achieved an exemplary statistical safety record…” The company later announced that executives who received the bonus would donate it to a fund for the victims’ families.

About Transocean

Transocean is a global offshore drilling corporation that owns and operates a series of rigs in the ocean, including ultra-deep-water, harsh environment, and midwater rigs. Founded in 1954, Transocean is the largest company of its kind by revenue, earning more than $4.1 billion per year. With offices in 20 countries including Houston, Texas, Transocean is widely known in the oil and gas industry and is one of the leading providers to companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, Equinor, and Chevron.

With decades in the offshore drilling industry, it is no wonder that Transocean has had its fair share of accidents, injuries, and fatalities. Workers and their families need to understand their rights and their options if a blowout, explosion, or other significant maritime accident occurs.

Transocean’s History of Accidents

For many years, Transocean was considered an industry leader. From 2004 to 2007, the company led deep-water drillers in “job quality” and “overall satisfaction.” After its merger with GlobalSantaFe in 2007, however, things have changed. Surveys ranked Transocean as last in “job quality” and second-to-last in “overall satisfaction” among deep-water drilling companies in 2008 and 2009. Then, in April of 2010, Transocean came under intense scrutiny for the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.

Details on Transocean’s biggest incidents are included below:

Transocean Leader Accident (2002)

In March of 2002, a man died in an accident on the Transocean Leader rig 86 miles west of Shetland, Scotland.

Galveston Bay Explosion (2003)

In June of 2003, an explosion on a Transocean gas drilling rig in Galveston Bay, Texas killed 1 worker and hospitalized 4 others. 21 more workers were evacuated from the site.

Maintenance Citation on Transocean Rather (2005)

In August of 2005, the UK Health and Safety Executive cited Transocean for an issue related to its remote blowout preventer control panel, stating it was not “…in an efficient state, efficient working order and in good repair.”

The Sinking of Bourbon Dolphin Supply Boat (2007)

In April of 2007, a supply boat named the Bourbon Dolphin sank off the Scotland coast, killing 8 people. The vessel was servicing the Transocean Rather rig at the time. According to a report by a Commission of Inquiry established by the Norwegian Ministry of Justice, the incident was caused by “unfortunate circumstances…with many of them linked to Bourbon Offshore and Transocean.”

Deepwater Horizon Drilling Rig Explosion (2010)

On April 20, 2010, a Transocean-owned and BP-operated rig called the Deepwater Horizon caught fire and sank, causing an oil spill that released about 134 million gallons of gas into the ocean. 11 crew members were killed.

Arnold & Itkin represented one-third of the Deepwater Horizon crew, demanding justice from BP, Halliburton, and Transocean. Our attorneys successfully secured the compensation they needed for their treatment and to take care of themselves and their families for the rest of their lives.

Get the Help That You Need. Call (888) 493-1629 for a Free Consultation!

The maritime attorneys of Arnold & Itkin are working hand-in-hand with numerous safety organizations, community leaders, the media, and other law firms throughout the Gulf Coast to provide a comprehensive legal response for all individuals negatively affected by the actions of the negligent parties. Our law firm has secured billions of dollars in compensation for our clients!

Call our maritime law firm with your questions to determine if you have a claim: (888) 493-1629

Common Questions

  • Was Transocean Responsible for the BP Oil Spill?

    After the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank, Transocean, BP, and every other company involved in the ownership of the rig and drilling efforts pointed fingers at one another. No one wanted to take responsibility for the catastrophe that claimed 11 workers' lives and caused unfathomable damage to the environment and businesses across the Gulf Coast. BP even filed claims against Transocean and others. As the owner and operator of the Deepwater Horizon, Transocean was responsible for the blowout preventer. Transocean had a strong safety record and had gone seven years without any serious incident that halted production, prior to the April 2010 explosion.

    On September 4, 2014, a U.S. District Court Judge found BP, Transocean, and Halliburton guilty of violating the Clean Water Act. 67% of the blame for the oil spill was assigned to BP, 30% to Transocean, and 3% to Halliburton.

  • Do I Have Grounds for a Lawsuit Against Transocean or Another Party?

    If you were adversely affected by the BP oil spill or any type of blowout or other offshore accident, you have the opportunity to seek compensation that can help you recoup your losses. It’s been years since the Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting oil spill, but this does not mean that the struggle is over for individuals and businesses who suffered harm. Our team is here to help you understand your legal rights and to exercise these so you can recover and move on.
  • What Can Be Done to Prevent Companies From Causing Offshore Explosions?

    Oil and gas companies are for-profit organizations. They will make decisions that they believe are in the best interests of their shareholders, and this means that they may sometimes act (or fail to act) in such a way as to put profits over safety. This is not guaranteed, but if you look at a history of offshore explosions and how companies like BP or Transocean have dealt with these, you can see that we have a long and tricky road to justice ahead. At Arnold & Itkin, we’re ready to stand up for injured offshore workers and all people whose lives are adversely impacted by the negligence and wrongdoing of others.
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