By Brennan Stark, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s Ministry of the Environment is expected to announce today that Chevron will be fined a maximum of R$50 million for the environmental damage its oil leak has caused the Campos Basin.  The company may also be be penalized by the National Petroleum Agency (Agência Nacional do Petróleo, ANP) for negligence and unsafe operating procedures.

Chevron will be fined for the environmental damage its oil leak has caused the Campos Basin, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, News
Chevron to be fined for environmental damage its oil leak has caused the Campos Basin, image recreation.

Environmental experts appointed by the Polícia Federal (Federal Police) to follow the case, however, believe the possible fines are insufficient to deter future accidents, as it is actually cheaper for oil companies to simply pay such reparations than it is to implement tighter and safer operational controls.

Even if the maximum fine is imposed, it would still total less than one percent of the $5 billion invested by Chevron over the last decade.

The fine’s amount is also outdated, as it has remained the same since environmental crimes laws were passed in February 1998.  Correcting for inflation would bring the total to R$116 million.

Where Chevron could potentially be hurt, however, is in a five-year ban on any oil-project bidding within Brazil.  Fabio Scliar, head of the Federal Police’s Bureau of the Environment, is currently investigating claims that Chevron acted negligently and carelessly.

“If the issue is beyond human error, the penalties are much higher than a R$50 million fine,” he claimed.

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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