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By Stephen Eisenhammer, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s National Petroleum Agency (ANP) plans to raise the fines companies will have to pay in the event of oil spills, reflecting the country’s concern over the environmental consequences of the steep increase in off-shore drilling operations.

ANP aims to increase the fines levied against companies for oil spills, photo Divulgação.
ANP aims to increase the fines levied against companies for oil spills, photo Divulgação.

The ANP announced Monday that it wants to up the minimum fine to R$30 million (approximately US$14.5 million) from R$5 million, with the possibility of companies being forced to pay as much as R$150 million in the case of major accidents resulting in deaths.

The proposal will now go to the Ministry of Mines and Energy to alter the current penalties law. Before entering into force, it will also have to be approved by Congress.

The new measure comes in the wake of the Chevron oil leak in the Frade Field, Campos Basin, off-shore Brazil last November in which between 2,700 and 3,000 barrels of oil were released into the sea some 370 kilometers off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.

Chevron have faced extensive legal action since, especially following a second, smaller spill in March. The company continues to be tied up in two civil lawsuits for environmental damages totaling R$40 billion.

Petrobras, Brazil’s majority state-owned oil giant also logged as many as seven small leaks since the beginning of 2012, the last in April just 500 meters from the boundary with the Frade Field.

Having been stretched by the Chevron leak and string of smaller incidents, the ANP is now keen to establish its role more clearly in terms of monitoring oil rigs, as well as in the clean up process and evaluation of repercussions in the event of a spill, certainly in time for the Rio+20 conference.

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with major news as it happens.

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