Brazil Arrests 17 Chevron Oil Execs for “Environmental Crimes”

Brazil Arrests 17 Chevron Oil Execs for “Environmental Crimes”

Brazilian prosecutors have filed charges against 17 executives from oil giant Chevron and the rig operator Transocean in connection with a recent deepwater oil spill. Some 110,000 gallons of oil leaked off the shore of Rio de Janeiro in November. Last week, Brazil announced more oil was leaking from cracks on the ocean floor near the offshore Chevron well. The executives are accused of a number of environmental crimes, as well as deceiving Brazilian officials after the spill.

Seventeen Chevron and Transocean executives were formally charged with  environmental crimes in an oil leak off Rio de Janeiro’s coast amid prosecutor  calls for damage payments and prison sentences.

The companies applied excessive pressure when drilling at Chevron’s Frade  field, used faulty equipment and failed to meet requirements to avoid and  counter spills, the federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement Wednesday.  George Buck, head of Chevron in Brazil, and other executives were also charged  with obstructing a probe. Prosecutors asked for prison sentences of as much as  31 years for the executives.

The 3,000-barrel slick at Chevron’s $3.6 billion Frade project in November  occurred at a time Brazil is increasing scrutiny of deepwater drilling following  the 2010 Macondo spill in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Chevron was “careless” when  drilling the well, Rio de Janeiro State Environment Secretary Carlos Minc said  earlier Wednesday.

“All evidence shows that Chevron acted carelessly,” Minc, a former Brazilian  environment minister, told reporters in Rio de Janeiro. “It was too eager and  didn’t respect agreements with regulating agencies.”

In an e-mailed statement, Chevron called the charges “outrageous and without  merit.”

“Chevron will vigorously defend the company and its employees,” spokesman  Kurt Glaubitz wrote.

Prosecutors are asking each company to pay $5.5 million and demanding about  $549,100 from each executive for damage to the environment. Michael Legrand,  Transocean’s head of operations in the country, is also among the 17 executives  who were banned from leaving Brazil this week during the prosecutors’ probe.

Chevron, the second-biggest U.S. oil company by market value, suspended  production in Brazil last week after identifying a second leak at the Frade  area.

The oil seep near Chevron’s Frade project this month didn’t come from the  field where a spill occurred in November, Glaubitz said in an e-mailed response  to questions.

Chevron has 15 days to respond to the Brazilian oil regulator’s report on the  spill, said Magda Chambriard, the head of the agency known as the ANP. She said  there were “no problems” with the Transocean platform used by Chevron.

ANP will complete its final report on the leak after the U.S. oil producer  replies to questions and expects to take a month to study the responses,  Chambriard said.

The state of Rio, where most of Brazil’s crude is produced, is proposing the  country monitor fields by satellite and make producers’ geological studies  public to boost transparency and scrutiny after the Chevron spill, Minc  said.

“Our measures are not excessive,” Minc said. “We’re not after Chevron because  it’s foreign.”

Adriana Brasileiro and Peter Millard are Bloomberg  writers.,

This article appeared on page D – 1 of the  San Francisco Chronicle

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2 responses to “Brazil Arrests 17 Chevron Oil Execs for “Environmental Crimes”

  1. Way to go! I am proud of my country!

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