Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar speaks out against BP, Transocean

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar (Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

The U.S. Department of the Interior has responded to reports from over the weekend that BP is set to resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and that Transocean, the contractor responsible for BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig, awarded bonuses to its top executives, in part as a reward for “the best year in safety performance in our company’s history.” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar denied that BP has already won approval to resume drilling and had harsh words for Transocean.

Reuters reports that Salazar discussed the twin controversies at a press briefing in Mexico City:

“There is absolutely no such agreement nor would there be such an agreement” with BP to resume drilling, Salazar said at a briefing while visiting the Mexican capital.

Salazar said that BP would need to go through the same review process to resume drilling as other companies.

Earlier reports in the British press had claimed that sources within BP said that a deal had been reached with government regulators. Although Salazar’s comments allege that BP has no such arrangement, the Obama administration has reopened drilling in the Gulf of Mexico; BP could very well be drilling in the Gulf again by the summer, as internal sources said was the hope, in spite of Salazar’s severe reaction.

Salazar also spoke out against Transocean:

“In my own view, 2010 was probably the greatest year of pain in terms of oil and gas development in the deep water all across the world,” Salazar said, telling reporters Transocean was “at some fault” for the spill.

William Reilly, former Bush EPA Administrator and co-chair of the Obama administration’s commission to investigate the oil spill, had even stronger words, calling Transocean’s report “embarrassing” and saying:

“It’s been said with respect to the disaster that some companies just don’t get it — I think Transocean just doesn’t get it.”

A Transocean spokesperson conceded to Reuters that the company had used “insensitive” language in its annual report.

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