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In-house: Transocean starts headhunting as GC who secured Deepwater Horizon settlements steps down

Lars Sjöbring, senior vice president and general counsel at Transocean, has resigned from his role after steering the company through litigation stemming from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.

Sjöbring leaves after just 18 months in the post, having joined in March 2014 to coordinate the oil drilling contractor’s US litigation over a spill that killed 11 workers and led to millions of barrels of crude oil contaminating the Gulf of Mexico. The company said that Sjöbring will help find a replacement after it took a year before finalising him to succeed Nick Deeming in 2013. He will however definitely depart before the end of the year. 

During his time as Transocean’s top lawyer, Sjöbring guided the Swiss company to a $212m settlement with US businesses and local governments over the spill and ended a five-year dispute with BP that saw the London-headquartered oil major pay it $125m to drop all claims.

That settlement came despite a highly-critical ruling by US district judge Carl Barbier, who apportioned 30% of the blame for the spill at the door of Transocean as its ‘conduct was negligent’. He also placed 67% of the blame on BP and 3% on oilfield servicer Halliburton in a ruling given in November 2014.

‘Lars has done an outstanding job guiding Transocean through the extensive litigation following the Macondo Well incident, and was instrumental in securing the related settlements with BP and the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee announced earlier this year,’ said Jeremy Thigpen, chief executive officer at Transocean. ‘On behalf of Transocean, I thank Lars for his service, and wish him great success in his future endeavours.’

Before joining Transocean, Sjöbring was general counsel at of Swedish-American automotive safety systems manufacturer Autoliv. An M&A lawyer by training, he spent the first two years of his career at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom before joining the M&A legal division of phone maker Nokia in 2002.