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Transocean Deepwater owned the drilling rig, which exploded on April 20, 2010, killing 11 people and setting off the worst oil spill in U.S. history. The explosion also blew up BP's well, Macondo Prospect, dumping 4.1 million barrels, or 172 million gallons, of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over 87 days.
Prosecutors said the conduct of Transocean and its affiliates violated the Clean Water Act.
In addition to a $1 billion penalty to resolve those claims, Transocean will also pay $400 million in criminal fines and penalties. It must also continue cooperating with the government's ongoing criminal investigation. Claims for natural resource damages and cleanup costs are not covered in the deal.
In pleading guilty, Transocean admits its Deepwater crew members "were negligent in failing fully to investigate clear indications that the Macondo well was not secure and that oil and gas were flowing into the well," the Justice Department said in a statement.