A Brazilian federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against No. 2 U.S. oil company Chevron Corp and its drilling contractor Transocean Ltd, putting a close to a nearly two-year legal battle over a November 2011 oil spill.
Brazilian prosecutors have sought 40 billion reais ($18 billion) in damages for a 3,600 barrel leak in the Frade offshore oil field north of Rio de Janeiro operated by Chevron.
Judge Raffaele Felice Pirro of the federal court in Rio dismissed the case after accepting an “adjustment of conduct” accord with Chevron that commits the company to spending about 300 million reais in compensatory activities and said that Transocean had no responsibility for the spill.
Taylor Barnes – Global Post/The Alaska Dispatch, 06/27/2012
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — The discovery of massive offshore crude oil reserves in 2007 was like a debutante party for this emerging South American power, longing to mingle with oil-rich peers in the Americas and the Middle East.
It “proves God is Brazilian,” then-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said of the find. His successor, President Dilma Rousseff, called it the country’s “filet mignon.”
“What we had beforehand was neck meat,” she added.
The BP (BP) spill has sure put traders and investors on edge. While a number of leaking rigs, fires, and other events, have occurred since the fateful spill two years ago, the spill off the coast of Brazil is an actual event that has moved the markets. The fact that Transocean (RIG) was again party to a spill that involves a large governmental lawsuit right at the time it seems near a settlement with BP seems to have spooked traders and investors as well.
Brazilian officials say some of the 2,600 gallons (10,000 liters) of oil that leaked from a Japanese-operated rig last week has reached a beach near Rio de Janeiro.
Rio state’s environmental secretary says part of the spill hit Bonfim beach on Sunday, two days after the oil leaked from the ship-shaped rig operated by the Modec, a Tokyo-based provider of floating production systems working for Brazil’s Petroleo Brasileiro SA.
Carlos Minc was quoted by the O Globo website saying the company was fined in $5.4 million on Saturday.
A $10.6 billion lawsuit against U.S. oil company Chevron (CVX.N) and rig contractor Transocean (RIGN.VX) could further cool an increasingly chilly investment climate in Brazil’s natural resources industry.
The lawsuit, filed in response to a small oil spill off Brazil’s coast on November 7, will likely drag on for years and seeks to shut down the companies’ local operations. But its biggest impact may be on investors, both foreign and Brazilian, who are being asked to spend upward of $600 billion to turn Brazil up among the world’s top three or four oil producers.
The case comes at a time when Brazil is rewriting its oil regulations to give the government greater control over the country’s oil wealth, an overhaul that has forced delays in investment projects and auctions for new drilling licenses.
The size of the oil slick at a well operated by U.S.-based Chevron Corp. off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state is more than 80 percent smaller than it was four days ago, said Brazil’s National Petroleum Agency Tuesday.
The agency said in a statement that the slick at the water’s surface covered 0.78 square miles (two square kilometers), compared to the 4.63 square miles (12 square kilometers) registered on Nov. 18.
The agency also said the oil slick continues moving away from Brazil’s coastline.
Chevron Corp (CVX) on Wednesday started plugging an oil well in deep waters off Brazil’s southeast coast, according to Brazil’s oil regulator, the ANP.
Starting at 1530 GMT Wednesday, a cement plug was put in place at the well in the Frade block, which lies some 230 miles northeast of Rio de Janeiro, the ANP said in a statement. It will take about 20 hours for the cement to dry and the plug to be properly fitted, the ANP said in a statement late Wednesday.
Images from Chevron’s remote cameras suggested the oil spill has already started to slow, the ANP said, adding that Chevron estimated that the well had been spilling between 220 barrels a day and 330 barrels a day.