Transocean Deepwater Drilling Corp. lost a round in its fight to avoid handing over documents to the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board which is investigating the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. Transocean is appealing a federal court order enforcing a subpoena for the documents issued by the Board. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals last month refused to stay the document handover while the appeal is pending. Dr. Daniel Horowitz, CSB’s managing director, had this to say:
We are extremely pleased with the court’s decision. After years of litigation, it paves the way for the CSB to finally conclude its Deepwater investigation, which we believe holds lessons for all the energy industry.
The documents were collected by a Transocean internal investigation team. The 5th Circuit said Transocean failed to justify anything that would delay the safety board’s report on the explosion. The opinion by a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit said:
Transocean has resisted the subpoenas for thirty-one months, of which twenty-one were consumed by litigation. An appeal in this court could take anywhere from one to three years. By the time the subpoenas’ enforceability is finally determined, a delay in the documents’ release may cause the CSB to have missed the opportunity to prevent another accident of the type that occurred on the Deepwater Horizon, which itself resulted in eleven deaths.
As noted previously, Transocean owned the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. The ruling was needed and is certainly a good one for the Board as it works to complete its investigation and issue a report.
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