Chevron, Transocean Expect Stiff Penalties After Brazil Offshore Oil Leak
by Dennis M. McElwee on June 18, 2012
A Brazilian court has barred several employees of Chevron and Transocean from leaving the country, even as law enforcement officers in the country prepare to file criminal charges against them. The charges are related to an offshore spill involving the company.
Last week, the Brazilian Navy reported that a new oil sheen was detected at the oilfield where there was an earlier spill in November. In that spill, oil was found leaking from an offshore field that was operated by Chevron. Brazilian officials have already moved to file a civil lawsuit against Chevron. The lawsuit seeks damages of about $11.2 billion.
Chevron has not smoothed things out with Brazil officials by dismissing the extent of the damage to the environment from this spill. The Brazilian public has been upset at statements by some top-level Chevron executives, who found the reaction in the country to the November spill, to be disproportionate and excessive. Those high-ranking Chevron executives are among those who have been barred from leaving Brazil. Both companies are preparing for a legal battle in Brazil.
Brazil has amped up its offshore drilling efforts, in an effort to increase oil production and compete with Venezuela and Iran. However, these increased offshore drilling efforts have meant drilling in extremely sensitive waters. The 2010 BP Gulf of Mexico tragedy underscored just how risky it is to drill in these waters, especially when companies do not bother to adhere to safety regulations. Brazilian petroleum safety officials want Chevron to be penalized stiffly in order to discourage other companies from flouting safety procedures.
The maritime law attorneys at Schechter McElwee Shaffer and Harris represent offshore oil workers injured in accidents across the globe.