The owner of the oil rig that exploded in the Gulf issued an apology after calling 2010 its “best year” ever in safety. Transocean did not comment on the safety bonuses it awarded top execs for meeting and exceeding internal safety goals, even considering the disaster at the rig run by BP resulting in 11 workers dead and 200 million gallons of oil spilled.
The accolades Transocean awarded itself for notable safety were published in a regulatory filing with the SEC.
“Notwithstanding the tragic loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico, we achieved an exemplary statistical safety record as measured by our total recordable incident rate and total potential severity rate,” said the statement. “As measured by these standards, we recorded the best year in safety performance in our company’s history.”
Backlash was swift and brutal, with U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar saying the company “just doesn’t get it.”
Trasocean was likewise swift to backpedal. “We acknowledge that some of the wording in our 2010 proxy statement may have been insensitive in light of the incident that claimed the lives of eleven exceptional men last year and we deeply regret any pain that it may have caused,” Transocean told CNN. “Nothing in the proxy was intended to minimize this tragedy or diminish the impact it has had on those who lost loved ones. Everyone at Transocean continues to mourn the loss of these friends and colleagues.”
The statement to the SEC also showed that Transocean President and Chief Executive Officer Steven L. Newman’s salary will increase from $900,000 to $1.1 million. His total bonus, of which the safety bonus is a quarter, is $374,062.
However, while this all makes for great headline hay, you have to remember that these bonuses are contractually obligated. If the internal metrics were met, transocean is liable for breach if they dont pay out, no matter how politically or popularily unpalatable that reality is. Although, interestingly, Transocean execs received no safety bonuses in 2009 when four employees died on the job.