BRASILIA - A Brazilian prosecutor filed a new lawsuit against Chevron Corp. and Transocean Ltd., the second such suit against the U.S. oil giant, for an offshore spill that happened March 4.
The prosecutor, Eduardo Santos de Oliveira, is asking for BRL20 billion ($11 billion) in fines for damage to the environment, the same amount he asked for in the earlier suit, which was filed over a spill that took place November.
Chevron criticized the suit and the prosecutor in an email.
"The filing of the second lawsuit is another in a series of outrageous actions brought by the same district attorney who previously filed both a criminal and civil case, all of which are without merit," Chevron said. "The 20 billion real figure in both civil lawsuits is arbitrary and has no legal and factual basis."
Chevron shut down production at its Frade offshore field last month after seepage of oil from the seabed was detected some three miles from the site of the November spill.
Last month, Chevron, Transocean, 16 employees of the two companies and one employee of local environmental firm Contecon were charged with environmental crimes related to a November oil spill at the Chevron-operated Frade offshore field. A drilling accident caused an estimated 2,400 to 3,000 barrels of oil to seep from cracks in the seabed.
In addition to the civil lawsuit, Chevron also faces hefty fines from regulators. Brazil's National Petroleum Agency, or ANP, also suspended Chevron's drilling rights in the country.
Chevron operates the field with a 51.7% stake, while Brazilian state oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, holds a 30% share. The remaining stake is held by the Frade Japao Petroleo Ltda. consortium.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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