The Brazilian federal prosecutor pressing criminal and civil litigation against Chevron Corp and drilling-rig operator Transocean Ltd for an offshore drilling accident has lost control of the cases.
A judge moved a criminal case against Chevron and Transocean to a court in Rio de Janeiro, a court document said on Wednesday, removing crusading prosecutor Eduardo Santos de Oliveira from the proceeding.
The criminal case was the last of three high-profile cases by Santos de Oliveira to be moved to Rio, including two 20 billion reais ($11 billion) lawsuits against the companies.
A Brazilian judge moved two $11 billion civil cases against Chevron and drilling-rig operator Transocean related to an offshore drilling accident and spills to a different court in Rio de Janeiro, a decision that removes a crusading prosecutor from the cases.
The momentum is shifting in the legal battle stemming from a rupture in November at a well that Transocean was drilling in the Frade field, which Chevron operates.
The latest development, published in a court filing on Friday, comes on the heels of another decision in favor of the companies earlier this week from a separate court, in which a judge denied a request to bar the two companies from operating in Brazil.
A Brazilian judge denied an injunction seeking to bar US oil company Chevron and drill-rig operator Transocean from operating in Brazil after two offshore oil leaks, a federal court in Rio de Janeiro said on Wednesday.
The judge, Guilherme Diefenthaeler of the appellate division of the Second Region Federal Court, ruled that granting the injunction would interfere with the legal authority of the ANP, Brazil’s oil regulator, to manage the oil industry and would be an improper judicial intrusion into public administration.
The ruling was made on an appeal by a federal prosecutor who had his initial request to issue the injunction banning Chevron and Transocean denied by a lower court, Reuters reported.
Just like in the movies, it takes just one man, one hero. And in Brazil that hero is one Federal prosecutor named Eduardo Santos de Oliveira.
After an oil spill off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, one man takes on Chevron.
Oliveira is at it again. After filing one R$20 billion ($11 billion) civil and criminal case against the U.S. multinational for its November spill at the Frade field in the Campos basis deep under the Atlantic Ocean, the federal prosecutor filed another one for the same amount on April 3. That’s roughly $21 billion for 2,400 barrels of oil, all of which have been cleaned up, none of which have killed a single marine mammal, and not a drop of which have washed up on the beautiful shores of Rio de Janeiro.
A federal prosecutor in Rio is already suing the companies for $11bn in damages and last week demanded prison sentences for 17 of their employees, including 31 years in jail for the head of Chevron’s Brazilian operations, George Buck.
Chevron and Transocean are facing further legal battles in Brazil’s promising oil market after the industry’s largest workers union filed a civil lawsuit against the companies for last year’s spill off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.
The US oil company and its drilling partner are already facing a R$20bn (US$11bn) lawsuit and criminal charges for the leak at Chevron’s Frade field last November, which was small by industry standards at no more than 3,000 barrels.
FUP, Brazil’s oil workers federation, said on Wednesday it had filed a civil lawsuit at a federal court in Rio de Janeiro requesting the cancellation of the companies’ rights to operate in the lucrative offshore field.
A judge in Campos, Brazil, could shift the criminal charges filed against Chevron and drill-rig operator Transocean to Rio de Janeiro, a decision that would remove a crusading prosecutor from the case.
Eduardo Santos de Oliveira, a federal prosecutor based in Campos, in Rio de Janeiro’s interior, told Reuters on Friday a jurisdictional review is under way, which could delay any formal criminal indictment of the firms and their employees for weeks.
Oliveira filed criminal charges against Chevron, Transocean and 17 of their employees in Brazil this week for alleged crimes related to a November offshore oil spill in Brazil’s Frade field, which Chevron operates.