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By Ségolène Poirier, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Prosecutors from the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) in Campos called for a new law suit of R$20 billion from Chevron and the drilling company Transocean for an oil leak which occurred on March 4th, in their Frade oil field in the Campos Basin, along Rio State’s coast.

Prosecutor Eduardo de Oliveira Santos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Prosecutor Eduardo Santos de Oliveira, photo by Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/ABr.

After the leak was reported Chevron had decided, on March 15th, to suspend its activities in Brazil and perform a new geological survey of the seabed. At the time, a federal judge in Rio de Janeiro had already summoned seventeen company executives to surrender their passports to Brazilian authorities while awaiting criminal charges.

However, according to the MPF, it is not enough. “We will continue to take all measures to avoid further disasters and punish the guilty,” prosecutor Eduardo Santos de Oliveira said in a statement.

After the first accident in November 2011, Chevron was fined about R$120 million by both IBAMA (Brazilian Institute of Environment and Natural Resources) and the Ministry of Environment and the National Petroleum Agency (ANP). At the time the Campos prosecutor sought out an initial fine of R$20 billion as well.

Chevron says that this new R$20 billion fine “is arbitrary and speculative and not based on facts.” In a statement, the company declared “This second lawsuit is part of a series of scandalous actions by the same prosecutor who previously had sparked criminal and civil proceedings, also arbitrary.”

However, the oil company is convinced that “justice will demonstrate that Chevron and its employees responded in a responsible and appropriate to the incident,” and that they will “vigorously defend the reputation of [its] employees and the company.”

The suspension of production at the Frade field will stop the capacity to produce 80,000 barrels a day, more than three percent of Brazil’s oil output.

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Update is a new feature we are offering to help keep you up-to-date with major news as it happens.

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