By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Following the new oil leak reported by Chevron on Wednesday, March 15th, the company announced it would temporarily stop all production in Brazil. Now federal prosecutor Eduardo de Oliveira Santos, who had leveled a law suit for R$20 billion in damages following Chevron’s November leak, said he is going to criminally charge those involved in two spills.

Federal prosecutor Eduardo Santos de Oliveira announced new charges to be brought against Chevron in Brazil
Federal prosecutor Eduardo Santos de Oliveira announced new charges to be brought against Chevron in Brazil, photo by Ururau.

Oliveira, prosecutor for Brazil’s Federal Public Ministry (MPF) in Campos, told the press that charges would possibly be against company executives, but that decisions would only be made starting Monday.

Separately IBAMA (Brazilian Institute of Environment and Natural Resources) set a deadline of Tuesday for Chevron to explain what has been done to contain the problem.

The National Petroleum Agency (ANP) also is reported to be waiting for additional information from Chevron about the cause of the leak, before authorizing the request to suspend production in the country.

So far Chevron has stated that just five liters of oil was leaked from a 800 meter crack in the seabed, some 1,200 meters (0.8 mile) below the ocean’s surface. However it is just three kilometers (1.86 miles) from where the November leak happened, which released an estimated 2,400 barrels of oil.

At the end of 2011, IBAMA fined Chevron R$60 million for the incident. Of this total, R$50 million referred to the release of oil into the sea and R$10 million because the company did not have the required emergency response systems in place.

It is estimated that potentially 200 billion barrels of oil sit deep under the ocean’s floor off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state. Brazil hopes to become the third largest oil producer by 2020 as a result of its development of the “pre-salt” region. The current total daily production of Chevron’s Frade Field is reported at 61,500 barrels of oil.

Read more (in Portuguese)

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