Chevron’s Amazon-sized gamble on Latin America

Joshua Shcneyer and Jeb Blount – Reuters, 03/12/2012

A Chevron sign is displayed at a gas station in Buckeye, Arizona October 27, 2011. Credit: Reuters/Joshua Lott

George Buck, a slim, towering American who runs Chevron’s (CVX.N) operations in Brazil, is often flanked by lawyers these days.

Since November, when the No. 2 U.S. oil company spilled at least 2,400 barrels of oil offshore Brazil, the local attorneys have helped Buck navigate the legal system, sometimes doubling as Portuguese translators and cultural consultants.

The soft-spoken engineer, in the country since 2009, has good reason to measure his words. Chevron is being sued for more than $11 billion by Brazilian prosecutors, although its leak was less than 0.1 percent the size of BP’s 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Officials say they are preparing criminal charges against Chevron, Buck and several of his colleagues.

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