Transocean CEO steps down

The CEO of offshore driller Transocean stepped down Monday under a “mutually agreed” decision between him and the board.

The company announced late Sunday that Steve Newman, the president and CEO, would leave the company.

Ian Strachan, chairman of the board, takes over as interim CEO, until a permanent replacement is found.

“As chief executive, Steven has capably guided Transocean over the last five years, demonstrating outstanding leadership through what was unquestionably the most challenging period in its history,” Strachan said in a statement. “In addition to leading Transocean through company- and industry-changing events following the Macondo well incident, Steven initiated essential changes that have and will continue to improve the company’s fleet, operations, cost structure and long-term competitiveness. As a result, Transocean is well positioned to weather the current industry downturn and emerge even stronger.”

In December, Transocean said it was planning to scrap seven of its older, lower-quality deep-water and mid-water vessels, putting them up for sale at a time when oil prices and demand for offshore rigs have fallen.

The rig contractor said at the time it was expecting a $100 million to $140 million charge in the fourth quarter, and it indicated it may not be finished jettisoning parts of its fleet.

“As the company continues to evaluate the long-term competitiveness of its fleet, additional rigs may be identified as candidates for scrapping,” the company said in a written statement.

Four of the seven vessels work offshore of West Africa and Asia, one is in the U.K. North Sea and one is in the Gulf of Mexico. The last is in South America, according to Transocean.

The company’s decision to scrap the seven rigs came after a string of vessel retirements and a $2.76 billion write-down of the company’s asset value in November.

Transocean owned the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which BP hired to drill its Macando well. The disaster killed 11 workers and resulted in worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Strachan has served as a director of the company since 1999 and as chairman of the board since May.