Note 9 - Contingencies
FCPA Internal Investigation
Following disclosures by other offshore service companies announcing internal investigations involving the legality of amounts paid to and by customs brokers in connection with temporary importation of rigs and vessels into Nigeria, the Audit Committee of our Board of Directors and management commenced an internal investigation in July 2007. The investigation initially focused on our payments to customs brokers relating to the temporary importation of ENSCO 100, our only rig that operated offshore Nigeria during the pertinent period.
As is customary for companies operating offshore Nigeria, we had engaged independent customs brokers to process customs clearance of routine shipments of equipment, materials and supplies and to process the ENSCO 100 temporary importation permits, extensions and renewals. One or more of the customs brokers that our subsidiary in Nigeria used to obtain the ENSCO 100 temporary import permits, extensions and renewals also provided this service to other offshore service companies that have undertaken Foreign Corrupt Practices Act ("FCPA") compliance internal investigations.
The principal purpose of our investigation was to determine whether any of the payments made to or by our customs brokers were inappropriate under the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA or whether any violations of the recordkeeping or internal accounting control provisions of the FCPA occurred. Our Audit Committee engaged a Washington, D.C. law firm with significant experience in investigating and advising upon FCPA matters to assist in the internal investigation.
Following notification to the Audit Committee and to KPMG LLP, our independent registered public accounting firm, in consultation with the Audit Committee's external legal counsel, we voluntarily notified the United States Department of Justice and the SEC that we had commenced an internal investigation. We expressed our intention to cooperate with both agencies, comply with their directives and fully disclose the results of the investigation. The internal investigation process has involved extensive reviews of documents and records, as well as production to the authorities, and interviews of relevant personnel. In addition to the temporary importation of ENSCO 100, the investigation has examined our customs clearance of routine shipments and immigration activities in Nigeria.
Our internal investigation has essentially been concluded. Discussions were held with the authorities to review the results of the investigation and discuss associated matters during 2009 and the first quarter of 2010. We expect to discuss a possible disposition with the authorities in the near-term.
Although we believe the U.S. authorities will take into account our voluntary disclosure, our cooperation with the agencies and the remediation and compliance enhancement activities that are underway, we are unable to predict the ultimate disposition of this matter, whether we will be charged with violation of the anti-bribery, recordkeeping or internal accounting control provisions of the FCPA or whether the scope of the investigation will be extended to other issues in Nigeria or to other countries. We also are unable to predict what potential corrective measures, fines, sanctions or other remedies, if any, the agencies may seek against us or any of our employees.
In November 2008, our Board of Directors approved enhanced FCPA compliance recommendations issued by the Audit Committee's external legal counsel, and the Company embarked upon an enhanced compliance initiative that included appointment of a Chief Compliance Officer and a Director - Corporate Compliance. We engaged consultants to assist us in implementing the compliance recommendations approved by our Board of Directors, which include an enhanced compliance policy, increased training and testing, prescribed contractual provisions for our service providers that interface with foreign government officials, due diligence for the selection of such service providers and an increased Company-wide awareness initiative that includes periodic issuance of FCPA Alerts.
Since ENSCO 100 completed its contract commitment and departed Nigeria in August 2007, this matter is not expected to have a material effect on or disrupt our current operations. As noted above, we are unable to predict the outcome of this matter or estimate the extent to which we may be exposed to any resulting potential liability, sanctions or significant additional expense.
ENSCO 74 Loss
In September 2008, ENSCO 74 was lost as a result of Hurricane Ike in the Gulf of Mexico. Portions of its legs remained underwater adjacent to the customer's platform, and we conducted extensive aerial and sonar reconnaissance but did not locate the rig hull. The rig was a total loss, as defined under the terms of our insurance policies.
In March 2009, the sunken rig hull of ENSCO 74 was located approximately 95 miles from the original drilling location when it was struck by an oil tanker. Following discovery of the sunken rig hull, we removed the accessible hydrocarbons onboard the rig and began planning for removal of the wreckage. As an interim measure, the wreckage has been appropriately marked, and the U.S. Coast Guard has issued a Notice to Mariners. We recently commenced removal of the hull wreckage and related debris.
Physical damage to our rigs caused by a hurricane, the associated "sue and labor" costs to mitigate the insured loss and removal, salvage and recovery costs are all covered by our property insurance policies subject to a $50.0 million per occurrence self-insured retention. The insured value of ENSCO 74 was $100.0 million, and we have received the net $50.0 million due under our policies for loss of the rig.
Coverage for ENSCO 74 sue and labor costs and wreckage and debris removal costs under our property insurance policies is limited to $25.0 million and $50.0 million, respectively. Supplemental wreckage and debris removal coverage is provided under our liability insurance policies, subject to an annual aggregate limit of $500.0 million. We also have a customer contractual indemnification that provides for reimbursement of any ENSCO 74 wreckage and debris removal costs that are not recovered under our insurance policies.
We believe it is probable that we are required to remove the leg sections of ENSCO 74 remaining adjacent to the customer's platform because they may interfere with the customer's future operations. We also believe it is probable that we are required to remove the ENSCO 74 rig hull and related debris from the seabed due to the navigational risk it imposes. We estimate the leg removal costs to range from $16.0 million to $30.0 million and the hull and related debris removal costs to range from $36.0 million to $55.0 million. We expect the cost of removal of the legs and the hull and related debris to be fully covered by our insurance without any additional retention.
A $16.0 million liability, representing the low end of the range of estimated leg removal costs, and a corresponding receivable for recovery of those costs was recorded as of March 31, 2010. A $34.3 million liability, representing the low end of the range of estimated remaining hull and related debris removal costs, and a corresponding receivable for recovery of those costs was recorded as of March 31, 2010. As of March 31, 2010, $1.7 million of wreckage and debris removal costs had been incurred and paid, primarily related to removal of hydrocarbons from the rig. The remaining estimated aggregate $50.3 million liability for leg and hull and related debris removal costs was included in accrued liabilities and other on our March 31, 2010 condensed consolidated balance sheet. Of the aggregate $52.0 million receivable for recovery of those costs, $1.2 million was included in other current assets and $50.8 million was included in other assets, net, on our March 31, 2010 condensed consolidated balance sheet.
In March 2009, we received notice from legal counsel representing certain underwriters in a subrogation claim alleging that ENSCO 74 caused a pipeline to rupture during Hurricane Ike. On September 4, 2009, civil litigation was filed seeking damages for the cost of repairs and business interruption in an amount in excess of $26.0 million. Based on information currently available, primarily the adequacy of available defenses, we have not concluded that it is probable a liability exists with respect to this matter.
In March 2009, the owner of the oil tanker that struck the hull of ENSCO 74 commenced civil litigation against us seeking monetary damages of $10.0 million for losses incurred when the tanker struck the sunken hull of ENSCO 74. Based on information currently available, primarily the adequacy of available defenses, we have not concluded that it is probable a liability exists with respect to this matter.
We filed a petition for exoneration or limitation of liability under U.S. admiralty and maritime law in September 2009. The petition seeks exoneration from or limitation of liability for any and all injury, loss or damage caused, occasioned or occurred in relation to the ENSCO 74 loss in September 2008. The owner of the tanker that struck the hull of ENSCO 74 and the owners of four subsea pipelines have presented claims in the exoneration/limitation proceedings.
We have liability insurance policies that provide coverage for claims such as the tanker and pipeline claims as well as removal of wreckage and debris in excess of the property insurance policy sublimit, subject to a $10.0 million per occurrence self-insured retention for third-party claims and an annual aggregate limit of $500.0 million. We believe all liabilities associated with the ENSCO 74 loss during Hurricane Ike resulted from a single occurrence under the terms of the applicable insurance policies. However, legal counsel for certain liability underwriters have asserted that the liability claims arise from separate occurrences. In the event of multiple occurrences, the self-insured retention is $15.0 million for two occurrences and $1.0 million for each occurrence thereafter.
Although we do not expect final disposition of the claims associated with the ENSCO 74 loss to have a material adverse effect upon our financial position, operating results or cash flows, there can be no assurances as to the ultimate outcome.
We have filed an insurance claim under our package policy, which includes coverage for certain political risks, and are evaluating legal remedies against Petrosucre for contractual and other ENSCO 69 related damages. ENSCO 69 has an insured value of $65.0 million under our package policy, subject to a $10.0 million deductible.
By letter dated September 30, 2009, legal counsel acting for the package policy underwriters denied coverage under the package policy and reserved rights. On March 15, 2010, underwriters commenced litigation for purposes of enforcing mediation under the disputes clause of our package policy and precluding us from pursuing litigation in the United States. On that date, we commenced litigation to recover on our political risk package policy claim. Our lawsuit seeks recovery under the policy for the loss of ENSCO 69 and includes claims for wrongful denial of coverage, breach of contract, breach of the Texas insurance code, failure to timely respond to the claim and bad faith. Our lawsuit seeks actual damages in the amount of $55.0 million (insured value of $65.0 million less a $10.0 million deductible), punitive damages and attorneys' fees. On March 30, 2010, we obtained a temporary restraining order barring underwriters from pursuing the lawsuit in the U.K.
We were unable to conclude that collection of insurance proceeds associated with the loss of ENSCO 69 was probable as of March 31, 2010. Accordingly, no ENSCO 69 related insurance receivables were recorded on our condensed consolidated balance sheet as of March 31, 2010. See "Note 8 - Discontinued Operations" for additional information on ENSCO 69.
ENSCO 29 Wreck Removal
A portion of the ENSCO 29 platform drilling rig was lost over the side of a customer's platform as a result of Hurricane Katrina during 2005. Although beneficial ownership of ENSCO 29 was transferred to our insurance underwriters when the rig was determined to be a total loss, management believes we may be legally required to remove ENSCO 29 wreckage and debris from the seabed and currently estimates the removal cost to range from $5.0 million to $15.0 million. Our property insurance policies include coverage for ENSCO 29 wreckage and debris removal costs up to $3.8 million. We also have liability insurance policies that provide specified coverage for wreckage and debris removal costs in excess of the $3.8 million coverage provided under our property insurance policies.
Our liability insurance underwriters have issued letters reserving rights and effectively denying coverage by questioning the applicability of coverage for the potential ENSCO 29 wreckage and debris removal costs. During 2007, we commenced litigation against certain underwriters alleging breach of contract, wrongful denial, bad faith and other claims which seek a declaration that removal of wreckage and debris is covered under our liability insurance, monetary damages, attorneys' fees and other remedies. The matter is scheduled for trial in August 2010.
While we anticipate that any ENSCO 29 wreckage and debris removal costs incurred will be largely or fully covered by insurance, a $1.2 million provision, representing the portion of the $5.0 million low end of the range of estimated removal cost we believe is subject to liability insurance coverage, was recognized during 2006.
During 2004, we and certain current and former subsidiaries were named as defendants, along with numerous other third-party companies as co-defendants, in three multi-party lawsuits filed in Mississippi. The lawsuits sought an unspecified amount of monetary damages on behalf of individuals alleging personal injury or death, primarily under the Jones Act, purportedly resulting from exposure to asbestos on drilling rigs and associated facilities during the period 1965 through 1986.
In compliance with the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure, the individual claimants in the original multi-party lawsuits whose claims were not dismissed were ordered to file either new or amended single plaintiff complaints naming the specific defendant(s) against whom they intended to pursue claims. As a result, out of more than 600 initial multi-party claims, we have been named as a defendant by 65 individual plaintiffs. Of these claims, 62 claims or lawsuits are pending in Mississippi state courts and three are pending in the U.S. District Court as a result of their removal from state court.
To date, written discovery and plaintiff depositions have taken place in eight cases involving us. While several cases have been selected for trial during 2010 and 2011, none of the cases pending against us in Mississippi state court are included within those selected cases.
We intend to vigorously defend against these claims and have filed responsive pleadings preserving all defenses and challenges to jurisdiction and venue. However, discovery is still ongoing and, therefore, available information regarding the nature of all pending claims is limited. At present, we cannot reasonably determine how many of the claimants may have valid claims under the Jones Act or estimate a range of potential liability exposure, if any.
In addition to the pending cases in Mississippi, we have three other asbestos or lung injury claims pending against us in litigation in various other jurisdictions. Although we do not expect the final disposition of the Mississippi and other asbestos or lung injury lawsuits to have a material adverse effect upon our financial position, operating results or cash flows, there can be no assurances as to the ultimate outcome of the lawsuits.
Working Time Directive
Legislation known as the U.K. Working Time Directive ("WTD") was introduced during 2003 and may be applicable to our employees and employees of other drilling contractors that work offshore in U.K. territorial waters or in the U.K. sector of the North Sea. Certain trade unions representing offshore employees have claimed that drilling contractors are not in compliance with the WTD in respect of paid time off (vacation time) for employees working offshore on a rotational basis (generally equal time working and off).
A Labor Tribunal in Aberdeen, Scotland, rendered decisions in claims involving other offshore drilling contractors and offshore service companies in February 2008. The Tribunal decisions effectively held that employers of offshore workers in the U.K. sector employed on an equal time on/time off rotation are obligated to accord such rotating personnel two-weeks annual paid time off from their scheduled offshore work assignment period. Both sides of the matter, employee and employer groups, appealed the Tribunal decision. The appeals were heard by the Employment Appeal Tribunal ("EAT") in December 2008.
In an opinion rendered in March 2009, the EAT determined that the time off work enjoyed by U.K. offshore oil and gas workers, typically 26 weeks per year, meets the amount of annual leave employers must provide to employees under the WTD. The employer group was successful in all arguments on appeal, as the EAT determined that the statutory entitlement to annual leave under the WTD can be discharged through normal field break arrangements for offshore workers. As a consequence of the EAT decision, an equal on/off time offshore rotation has been deemed to be fully compliant with the WTD. The employee group (led by a trade union) appealed the EAT decision to the highest court in Scotland (the Court of Session). A hearing on the appeal is expected in June 2010.
Based on information currently available, we do not expect the ultimate resolution of these matters to have a material adverse effect on our financial position, operating results or cash flows.
In addition to the foregoing, we are named defendants or parties in certain other lawsuits, claims or proceedings incidental to our business and are involved from time to time as parties to governmental investigations or proceedings, including matters related to taxation, arising in the ordinary course of business. Although the outcome of such lawsuits or other proceedings cannot be predicted with certainty and the amount of any liability that could arise with respect to such lawsuits or other proceedings cannot be predicted accurately, we do not expect these matters to have a material adverse effect on our financial position, operating results or cash flows.