Chevron Oil Spill a Warning for Brazil
As Brazil continues to expand recent offshore discoveries to meet ambitious production goals, Chevron comes under intense scrutiny for a massive oil spill earlier this month. The violations to environmental contamination laws will result in fines for the company and possible prison terms for guilty officials.
Though much smaller than BP's 5 million barrel oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year, the spill adds to Chevron's challenge to prosper in the Latin American market. In Ecuador, the company is also engaged in a legal battle over oil contamination in the country's rain forest. Chevron is expected to face further testimony over the offshore spill in the next week and it is expected some of its employees will face prison terms of several years if found guilty for violating environmental laws.
Fábio Scliar, the head of the environment affairs division of the federal police in Brazil, expressed his frustration with Chevron's handling of the spill in an interview Friday. “They’ve been very resistant about providing information, and they were hesitant about allowing me to land on the platform,” said Scliar. “We had to be rather energetic with them about our requests.”
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In response, Chevron spokesman Kurt Glaubitz told the media that Chevron has “accommodated all requests for information in a timely manner,” and that the “situation is largely resolved.”
Many believe the spill is a sign of more challenges and environmental violations to come as the country continues to produce oil from new pre-salt discoveries that lie almost 10,000 feet deep beneath thick layers of salt, sand and rock. Environmentalists are in an uproar, despite Chevron's assertions that the problem has been contained.
The current damage is estimated at about 400 to 650 barrels of oil spilled in the Frade field in waters almost 3,8000 feet deep. An internal investigation with Brazilian authorities is underway.