* Judge asks for bond of about $275,000 from rig employee
* Employee said to have accepted new job in U.S.
* Employee agreed to cooperate, return to Brazil-judge
* Two other accused workers previously allowed to leave
RIO DE JANEIRO, April 4 A judge in Brazil gave
permission to one of the 17 Chevron and Transocean
employees facing criminal charges over a November
offshore oil spill to leave the country, documents released by a
federal court on W edn esday showed.
The permission is conditional on the payment of a 500,000
real ($275,000) bond, the court said.
Jason Warren Clendenen, who for Chevron helped manage the
use of drilling mud on Transocean's Sedco 706 rig in the
Chevron-operated Frade field northeast of Rio de Janeiro,
accepted a new job in the United States during the
investigation, judge Claudio Gerão Barreto of Brazil's Federal
Court in Campos wrote in his ruling.
Clendenen has shown willingness to cooperate with Brazilian
authorities, and pending the payment of the bond and signing of
an agreement to return to face proceedings, his absence from
Brazil will be permitted, the judge wrote.
The bond payment was needed because Clendenen does not have
work reasons to return to Brazil and because a judicial treaty
between the United States and Brazil is not sufficient to ensure
his return, the judge wrote.
On March 16, several days before the filing of criminal
charges, Clendenen and 16 others, including Transocean and
Chevron's Brazil chiefs, were ordered to turn in their passports
and remain in the country.
Ahead of the filing, the judge gave two of the 17 employees,
Gary Marcel Slaney and Brian Mara, permission to leave Brazil
without posting bonds. Both are expected to return to work on
the Sedco 706 after visits with their families abroad.
The 17 Transocean and Chevron employees face prison terms of
up to 31 years if convicted. The prosecutor who filed the
charges has also filed two 20 billion real ($10.9 billion)
lawsuits against the companies, one for the November spill and
another for a leak in March.
The November discharge leaked an estimated 3,000 barrels. By
comparison, BP's 2010 Macondo disaster in the Gulf of
Mexico spilled 4.9 million barrels.
The March leak, which remains unexplained, spilled less than
two barrels, Chevron said. No oil from either spill reached
Brazilian prosecutor Eduardo Santos de Oliveira, who filed
the initial civil and criminal cases, considers the November
spill one of the worst-ever ecological disasters in Brazil.
Chevron and Transocean have said they committed no crimes,
consider the charges excessive, that their employees acted
properly, and that they will cooperate with authorities and
defend themselves and their employees from all charges and