WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–Employees of Transocean Ltd. (RIG), the company that owned the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded last April, are refusing to testify before federal officials investigating the causes of the explosion and subsequent oil spill.
The U.S. Interior Department, which is conducting a joint investigation with the Coast Guard, says it issued subpoenas to three Transocean employees two weeks ago to compel them to testify at a set of hearings.
The goal of the hearings, scheduled for next week, is to examine the design and performance of the blowout preventer, a key piece of equipment that is supposed to prevent oil spills.
The three employees have indicated they do not plan to attend the hearings, the Interior Department said. Department officials are now pressing Transocean Chief Executive Steven Newman to take steps to compel his workers to testify.
“This is unacceptable,” Michael Bromwich, director of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, said in a March 31 letter to Newman.
Responding to the letter, Transocean’s attorney said two of the employees have hired individual lawyers and so their actions are “beyond Transocean’s control.”
-By Tennille Tracy, Dow Jones Newswires
Photo: KENNER, La. – Stephen Bertone, Transocean chief engineer from the Deepwater Horizon rig, testifies at the joint investigation hearing, July 19, 2010. The Coast Guard and BOEM are co-chairing the joint investigation launched to determine the cause of the initial incident and fire aboard the mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU) Deepwater Horizon .U. S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Casey J. Ranel.