CAIRN Energy, the Edinburgh-based oil explorer which is struggling to recreate past successes, has handed its top executives share incentives with a paper value of £8 million.

Chief executive Simon Thomson was the biggest recipient. He has received 959,794 shares, with a paper value of £1.6m at the allocation price of 168.2p a share. How many of the shares the 10 executives retain will depend on the extent to which they meet performance conditions over the next three years.

Others to receive seven-figure awards included deputy chief executive Mike Watts, who was handed £1.4m of shares, and managing director Jann Brown who received £1.3m worth.

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Earlier this week, Cairn reported a deepened pre-tax loss of £660m as it faced exploration setbacks in the North Sea and Morocco.