Brazil judge drops criminal charges against Chevron, Transocean

20 February 2013 21:57  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--A Brazilian federal judge on Wednesday dropped criminal charges against US oil company Chevron, drilling contractor Transocean and their employees over a November 2011 spill and March 2012 seepage event at the offshore Frade oil field.

A Brazilian federal prosecutor had filed criminal charges and two civil lawsuits totalling $22bn (€17bn) against the defendants over alleged lack of planning and environmental management.

The spill and seepage was estimated at more than 3,000 bbl.

“Chevron Brasil Upstream Frade is pleased by the court's decision,” said James Craig, Chevron’s media advisor for Africa and Latin America. “Chevron Brasil remains committed to its policy of full transparency and close cooperation with the Brazilian authorities. We are committed to resolving any remaining issues surrounding this incident, as well as sharing important lessons learned that will benefit future operations in Brazil.”

Transocean was equally pleased with the judge’s decision.

"We welcome this news that the court recognised with respect to the Frade event of November 2011 that Transocean crews did exactly what they were trained to do, acting responsibly, appropriately and quickly while always maintaining safety as their top priority," Transocean spokesman Guy Cantwell said.

Chevron is awaiting approval from Brazilian regulator ANP to restart operations at the Frade field, the company said on Wednesday.

In December, a Brazilian court dismissed an injunction against Chevron that barred the company and Transocean from operating in the country. The injunction had been issued in response to the November 2011 spill.

Reports surfaced in December that Brazilian authorities and Chevron were discussing settling the civil suits for about $144m, but no further developments have been announced.

($1 = €0.75)

By: Jeremy Pafford
+1 713 525 2653

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