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Transocean to Donate Safety Bonus Awards After Criticism

Transocean Ltd., owner of the drilling rig that exploded and sank in last year’s fatal Gulf of Mexico disaster, said top executives will donate to charity safety bonuses that drew criticism from U.S. Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar.

The bonuses, which in aggregate total more than $250,000, will be given to the Deepwater Horizon Memorial Fund established by the Vernier, Switzerland-based company after 11 rig workers perished in the April 20 catastrophe, Transocean said today in a statement.

Chief Executive Officer Steven Newman and his senior management team drew criticism from Salazar and other government officials after a regulatory filing last week said the bonuses were justified by Transocean’s “best year in safety performance.” The company’s Deepwater Horizon vessel was working on behalf of BP Plc on a well called Macondo when a blowout erupted.

“Nothing is more important to Transocean than our people, and it was never our intent to diminish the effect the Macondo tragedy has had on those who lost loved ones, Newman said in the statement. “We offer our most sincere apologies and we regret the impact this matter has had on the entire Transocean family.”

In addition to Newman, the executives who will donate their bonuses include Chief Financial Officer Ricardo H. Rosa, and Arnaud A.Y. Bobillier, Eric Brown and Ihab M. Toma, all of whom are executive vice presidents.

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