Judge says Transocean can’t blame U.S. for spill

Transocean Ltd. can’t blame the U.S. government for partial fault in the 2010 blowout of BP Plc’s Macondo Well in the Gulf of Mexico and subsequent oil spill, a judge said.

Transocean filed a claim against the U.S. in February, contending the incident may have been caused in part by the acts of federal agencies and government employees. Transocean was seeking a credit or offset on any prospective damages assessed against the company in the lawsuits.

“The U.S. has sovereign immunity here,” U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said today at a hearing in federal court in New Orleans in dismissing the claim.

U.S. lawyers argued that the government wasn’t liable for the spill. “It was at all times the responsibility of the private parties involved in the oil drilling venture to comply with federal safety regulations, including maintaining control of their well,” the U.S. said in a May response to Transocean’s claim.

The Macondo well blowout and the explosion that followed killed 11 workers and set off the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

The accident and spill led to hundreds of lawsuits against London-based BP and its partners and contractors including Transocean, the Switzerland-based owner and operator of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that exploded; Halliburton Co., which provided cementing services; Cameron International Corp., which provided blowout-prevention equipment; and BP’s minority partners in the well, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Mitsui & Co.’s Moex Offshore LLC unit.

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