Transocean Ltd., owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, will meet all of its legal obligations related to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the drilling contractor’s chief executive said Friday.
Separately, ExxonMobil Corp. said it has suspended drilling operations at the Hoover Diana well in the Gulf after the U.S. ordered a halt to current drilling in the area. Marathon Oil Corp. also said the company is in the process of abandoning the Innsbruck well in the Gulf.
President Barack Obama ordered Thursday the halt of activities at about 33 exploratory wells in the deep waters of the Gulf and also extended a moratorium on new drilling in the area to six months. The drilling ban will be in place until the underlying cause of the largest spill in the U.S. history is understood.
The Switzerland-based Transocean has been in the spotlight since April 20, when the Deepwater Horizon exploded, killing 11 workers. The rig sank two days later and thousands of barrels of oil a day have gushed out of a broken pipe on the sea floor. BP PLC, which leased the rig and is responsible for the clean-up, has begun injecting drilling mud into the well in an effort to plug the leak.
Lawmakers have criticized the Transocean’s shareholder-approved $1 billion dividend payment and have called for a Justice Department investigation. At the same time, a ban on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico threatens the company’s U.S. operations, which account for about 25% of its revenue.
“The payment of the dividend will not affect the company’s ability to meet its legal obligations,” Steven Newman said during the conference call.
The company said it can still pay this dividend despite Thursday’s announcement of a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling.