Transocean seeks Gulf disaster trial delay if reports not admitted

Swiss offshore drilling contractor Transocean wants a federal judge to delay the civil trial over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico rig explosion and oil spill for at least six months if the court refuses to admit the reports of a key expert who won’t be able to testify because he recently died in a car crash.

The expert, Jeff Wolfe, prepared reports about the seaworthiness, marine safety systems, regulatory compliance, and
safety condition of the Deepwater Horizon, as well as the competency and training of the rig’s crew, at the time of the disaster.

The Feb. 25 trial in New Orleans is designed to identify the causes of BP’s deadly well blowout and assign percentages of fault to the companies involved in the ill-fated drilling project. Eleven rig workers were killed when an undersea well blew out and caused an explosion on the rig off Louisiana. The resulting oil spill was the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.

Transocean, which owned the Deepwater Horizon and was leasing it to British oil giant BP, is asking a judge to admit Wolfe’s reports into evidence as his direct testimony. If the court refuses, Transocean is seeking a trial delay of at least six months so it can hire another expert who can submit a report and prepare to testify.

There was no immediate ruling by the court to Transocean’s motion, which was filed Sunday.