Brazil judges reinstate oil spill suit against US' Chevron

04 April 2014 23:44  [Source: ICIS news]

BOGOTA (ICIS)--Brazilian judges have reinstated on appeal criminal proceedings against Chevron over an offshore oil spill in November 2011, prompting the US energy major on Friday to say it would “continue to defend itself and its employees”.

The decision to reinstate charges against Chevron and eleven employees, a year after the California-based company had managed to dismiss those charges following a deal with authorities, was revealed by Brazil’s public prosecutor’s office on Wednesday.

The case dates back to November 2011 when a pressure spike caused an estimated 3,700 barrels of crude oil to escape from the Frade oilfield of the northeast coast of Rio de Janeiro.

Chevron, which has not denied the accident, but has questioned its environmental impact, said in a statement on Friday that the complaint was “without merit”.

“We are confident that once all the facts are fully examined, they will demonstrate that the company responded appropriately and responsibly to the incident and that there is no damage to the environment or risk to human health,” Chevron said.

Judges are not seeking criminal charges against Transocean, Chevron’s drilling partner at the time of the accident, according to the prosecutor’s statement. Transocean had been indicted in the original lawsuit.

A federal judge dismissed a civil lawsuit against Chevron and Transocean in October last year. Prosecutors had been seeking some $20bn in damages.

Chevron owns a 51.7% stake in Frade, while Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras and Japanese partnership Frade Japao owns 30.0% and 18.3%, respectively.

By: Simon West

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