Not Beholden to the U.S.


With BP CEO Tony Hayward touring the Middle East reassuring investors that the oil spill won’t destroy the company, and with the leadership of drilling-rig operator Transocean clinging to claims that its liability is limited by a host of maritime laws, it’s a good time to remember that we’re dealing with some serious globe-trotting.

Transocean may be small compared to BP, but it has operational revenues of more than $10 billion annually. The firm is actually the product of about 10 years of wheeling and dealing among a half-dozen players, starting with a Texas outfit buying a Norway-based company, then shifting the combo-firm’s “headquarters” to the Cayman islands and then eventually seeking even greater financial protection in Switzerland.

All these global footprints are good reminders that these companies are not exactly beholden to the United States market, or whatever perceptions we might have of them. This leaves them free to do whatever they need to do to escape accountability for the oil spill. Hey, they abandoned Texas to avoid paying taxes, does anyone thin they’re going to ante up all the money necessary for the spill?

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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