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(Photo by U.S. Coast Guard)

According to the top brass at Transocean, the top brass deserve big bonuses for “the best year in safety performance in our company’s history,” as noted in the company's Proxy Statement and 2010 Annual Report. The safety portion of the executives' bonuses averages 3.8 percent of their base pay. Transocean president Steven L. Newman received a $374,062 bonus and a $200,000 salary increase. Together with a stock award and other payments, his total compensation in 2010 rose to $6.3 million.

Remember Transocean? The largest off-shore drilling company in the world? The company BP contracted with to put a deep, deep hole in the Gulf of Mexico with its drilling rig, the half-billion-dollar Deepwater Horizon? The rig that exploded and killed 11 crew and injured 17 others a year ago this month? The hole that, consequent to the failure of a poorly designed blowout preventer and numerous mistakes in judgment by the drilling managers and crew, spewed millions of barrels of oil into the environment before it was ultimately capped? A spew that continues to affect the Gulf despite having long ago left the headlines? That Transocean?

"Notwithstanding the tragic loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico," the proxy states, "we achieved an exemplary statistical safety record as measured by our total recordable incident rate and total potential severity rate. As measured by these standards, we recorded the best year in safety performance in our Company's history. [It is] "a reflection on our commitment to achieving an incident-free environment, all the time, everywhere."

Once upon a time, such a statement would at least have brought red to the cheeks even of oil executives. Now it merely adds green to their bank accounts.

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