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Transocean Not Cooperating With Federal Oil Spill Panel

The federal panel investigating the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion that caused environmental contamination in the Gulf of Mexico has met stiff resistance by Transocean. Transocean is the company that owned the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and leased the rig to BP. Transocean will not hand over requested documents regarding the company's compliance with international safety management codes. The federal panel has also requested that a certain Transocean manager testify about safety. The company's manager has not responded.

Lawyers for Transocean argue that the document production request is too "cumbersome" and the company does not have control over whether the manager testifies. The panel has subpoenaed the manager two times and has met general discovery objections from the company. A panel representative has tried to push for a response in explaining that the chance to testify is an opportunity to disprove the current opinion of safety culture at Transocean.

The current focus of the panel is to review the safety culture of the companies involved in the oil rig explosion. The panel has warned it will have to make conclusions and recommendations if Transocean participates or not. Lawyers for Transocean argue the company has performed in good faith with the panel and has generated documents it believes are relevant. The company's lawyers take the position that if the panel wishes to enforce its subpoena it can go to court.

That is not to say that no Transocean officials have testified to the federal panel. A Transocean official on Tuesday testified that the water dumped on the rig had the purpose of stabilizing the rig. The water was meant to cool the rig's structure not extinguish the fire.

Source: Cbsnews.com, "Oil Spill Panel: Transocean Thwarting Probe," 10/5/10

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