Chevron Executives Face Criminal Indictments in Brazil Over Offshore Leaks
By Joe Carroll and Juan Pablo Spinetto – Dec 22, 2011 8:04 AM ET
Chevron Corp. (CVX), the operator of the Brazilian offshore well that triggered oil leaks, and partner Transocean Ltd. (RIG) will “vigorously defend” executives threatened with criminal indictments in the South American nation.
Chevron was informed late yesterday that Brazil’s federal police intend to indict employees involved in the drilling that led to the Nov. 7 leaks from seafloor fissures near the $3.6 billion Frade development, Kurt Glaubitz, a spokesman for the San Ramon, California-based company, said in a statement. Transocean, in a separate statement late yesterday, said it will “vigorously defend the company and its collaborators.”
The second-largest U.S. energy company by market value has been fined 50 million reais ($26.9 million) and ordered to halt all drilling and crude production off Brazil’s coast after discovering the leaks last month. Chevron estimated the volume of the seeps at 3,000 barrels (126,000 gallons) over the eight days it took for the company to locate and halt the leaks.
“Chevron Brasil was just advised that the Federal Police has recommended indictments against our employees, which we believe are without merit,” Glaubitz said yesterday. “We will vigorously defend the company and its employees.”
ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. oil company, said yesterday it’s taking responsibility for two oil spills in China’s Bohai Bay in June and is setting up compensation funds to support environmental research and communities affected, according to a statement from the Houston-based company.
Glaubitz declined to identify the Chevron employees targeted for indictment.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company, shut its 200,000 barrel-a-day Bonga field off Nigeria after a leak during a tanker loading caused what may be the country’s worst offshore spill in more than a decade. The Bonga deepwater discovery produces almost 10 percent of Nigeria’s crude.
Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) of Irving, Texas, is the biggest U.S. energy company by market value.
Chevron has come under increased scrutiny in Brazil after the oil leaked from an oil field in deep waters of the Campos Basin. The company underestimated the amount of pressure at an oil deposit it was exploring, and crude leaked from the reservoir for about eight days, George Buck, the head of Chevron for Brazil, said on Nov. 20.
BP Plc. has booked more than $40 billion in losses related to the April 2010 blowout of the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico. The accident killed 11 workers aboard Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon well and spilled 4.9 million barrels of crude.
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