`Chevron out of Brazil if it fails to comply with agreement’

December 5th, 2011 - 11:56 am ICT by IANS  

Brasilia, Dec 5 (IANS/EFE) US-based Chevron Corp. will have to leave Brazil if it fails to comply with the agreement it reached to deal with the damage caused by an oil spill last month off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state, Energy and Mines Minister Edison Lobao said.

“The company has already been given a very strong penalty for what it did and it has been suspended from engaging in new drilling in Brazil, even if it is the second-largest oil company in the world,” Lobao told reporters in Teresina, the capital of the northeastern state of Piaui.

Chevron must pay a fine of 50 million reais (about $28 million) levied by officials and take responsibility for the environmental damage caused by the spill, whose extent has still not been determined, the energy minister said.

“We are extremely aware in the sense of ensuring that (Chevron) fulfills its role and obligations because if not it will be expelled from Brazil,” Lobao said.

The spill began Nov 8 at an appraisal well in the offshore Campos basin due to an “unexpected pressure spike or ‘kick’” during “drilling toward a targeted reservoir”, Chevron said in its preliminary assessment of the incident.

The San Ramon, California-based company estimates that a total of 2,400 barrels of crude leaked from the well, although Rio de Janeiro state officials say close to 15,000 barrels were spilled.

The company dispersed or recovered the majority of the crude that rose to the surface and the oil sheen, located some 120 km off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state, has almost completely dissipated.

Chevron Brasil Upstream Frade Ltda., a Chevron Corp. subsidiary, is the lead operator in the Frade field with a 51.7 percent stake.

Brazilian state oil giant Petrobras has a 30 percent interest in the project and the Frade Japao Petroleo Ltda. consortium controls the remaining stake.

A Greenpeace report whose results were published in the press Sunday, meanwhile, said the vast oil reserves discovered in the Atlantic would make Brazil one of the world’s top polluters.

“Brazil, which holds the sixth position, would become the third-biggest among the world’s polluters, behind the United States and China,” the environmental group said.

–IANS/EFE
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