Judge allows expert’s reports on ill-fated rig

Reports prepared by one of Transocean’s key experts, who later died in a car crash, will be admitted during next month’s civil trial over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

On Monday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan granted Transocean’s motion to admit Jeff Wolfe’s reports as direct testimony.

Wolfe prepared reports about the seaworthiness, marine safety systems, regulatory compliance, and
safety condition of Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon rig, as well as the competency and training of the rig’s crew, at the time of the disaster. Transocean said in a court filing in December that Wolfe had recently died in a car crash.

The ruling means Transocean’s request to delay the trial for at least six months if the reports were not admitted is moot.

Transocean owned the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which exploded and sank in the Gulf some 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana after an undersea well owned by British oil giant BP blew out. Eleven rig workers were killed. The resulting oil spill was the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.

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.