Transocean Ltd. (RIG, RIGN,VX) filed a motion in federal court on Tuesday morning to force BP PLC (BP, BP.LN) to indemnify it against damages related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The legal salvo is the latest in an increasingly bitter contractual dispute between the companies over whether the Switzerland-based Transocean should help pay billions of dollars in costs and government penalties. Federal investigations into the incident have put blame on both BP and Transocean in the 2010 spill, which occurred after a drilling crew lost control of an oil well in deep water off the coast of Louisiana.
BP has agreed to pay costs related to cleaning up the spill. But the London-based oil giant is seeking to have Transocean help cover the oil-spill cleanup costs, arguing that Transocean and its employees bear partial responsibility for the accident.
Transocean, owner of the world’s largest fleet of offshore deepwater drilling rigs, says BP agreed in its contract to “defend, indemnify and hold harmless” the driller.
Transocean, in its legal motion, argued that BP is trying to nullify its contract for use of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. “Why have you signed so many contracts, reviewed by an army of your lawyers and businessmen, that you have no intention of honoring,” it asked in the legal motion. “The answer is simple: money.”
BP spokesman Daren Beaudo said in a statement that Transocean breached the drilling contract. “To enforce the indemnification would be to allow Transocean to escape the consequences of its actions and avoid meeting its obligations in the Gulf,” he said.
-By Russell Gold , The Wall Street Journal