Brazil Fears Unstable Seabed at Chevron Offshore Field

Brazil Fears Unstable Seabed at Chevron Offshore Field

RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazilian officials are concerned that the seabed above an offshore oil field operated by U.S. oil major Chevron Corp. is unstable and could lead to a series of oil seeps at the field, according to a report Monday by local newspaper O Globo.

Brazil's National Petroleum Institute, or ANP, and environmental regulator Ibama are studying the possibility that cracks and instability in the sea floor extend in a 3.5-kilometer radius around a platform at Chevron's Frade field, O Globo reported. In November, a drilling accident caused between 2,400 and 3,000 barrels of oil to seep into the Atlantic Ocean from fissures in the seabed.

The concern is that the unstable sea floor in the area could collapse, a source told O Globo. In addition, oil is seeping from fissures that have not yet been delineated. "Nobody has any knowledge about what is happening," the source said.

The latest troubles follow last week's revelation that oil had started seeping once again from the seabed near Frade, located in the Campos Basin nearly 200 kilometers off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state. Chevron also asked local regulators for permission to halt production of about 61,000 barrels a day at the field in an effort to "better understand the geologic complexities of the area."

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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Skipper | Mar. 23, 2012
The answer to Bob Willsies query is yes. Long before Petrobras started offshore exploration oil was washing up on the beaches in the Campos area. This preceded and even provoked the initial quest for oil in the Campos Basin. But Chevron should have known this. Its no secret. Petrobras is a partner in Frade and surely decisions were made jointly. At least now the ANP has stated that Chevron and TSN were not negligent - a big step forward.

BB | Mar. 20, 2012
I think this article misses the mark/point. Seabed instability issues leading to possible surface oil seepage would occur whether a platform was there or not. The two are not related, and any leakage existed long before a platform was placed on site. Shouldn’t the article focus be, what would seabed instability do to the platform? How would it impact production? What are the risks?

Rob DeAngelis | Mar. 20, 2012
Re B Willsie Question. I do not get the relevance of your question. Even if they were pre-existing the responsible course of action would be to halt production to study the situation and develop a plan of action to deal with it. If the producer is losing oil due to seepage then it would behoove them to eleminate the problem...why let money leak out the spout...which I might add appears to be the course of action that Chevron has chosen. Producers who fail to excercise good corporate governance when it comes to leaks of oil whether on the ground or in the ocean, will only be doing themselves a disservice by not acting in a socially responsible manner.

Mike Green | Mar. 19, 2012
Announcing abandoning the Frade field should have been a huge heads up that something more dire was amiss than meets the eye. Confiscating passports and denying company officials permission to leave the country is huge in a stable and democratic country like Brazil. Sounds ominous to me.

Bob Willsie | Mar. 19, 2012
Any possibility that the seeps were always there? That they existed before there was any drilling? The name "Cattaraugus" in Western New York is from the Seneca words meaning "smelly water". It was used to describe the smell of the crude oil that leaked from the ground along the Cattaraugus Creek.

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