Chevron Says Brazil's Reaction To Spill Out Of Proportion

BRASILIA - The legal reaction to a Chevron Corp. oil spill in Brazil in November is "out of proportion compared to the event," according to Rafael Jaen Williamson, the oil company's director of corporate affairs.

A Chevron-operated well spilled between 2,400 and 3,000 barrels of oil into the sea off the coast of Rio de Janeiro in November. Brazil on Wednesday filed criminal charges against Chevron and 17 individuals related to the spill.

The prosecutor, Eduardo Santos de Oliveira, accused the firms, 16 of their employees and a subcontractor of environmental crimes and damaging public property. Williamson said Chevron was not negligent in the case, and the company plans to defend itself.

"We will respect and follow the law," Williamson said after speaking to a Brazil Senate committee. "The law allows you to defend yourself, to present your case and to go with that to compare and contrast and defend yourself."

An official from Brazil's oil regulator, the National Petroleum Agency, agreed with Williamson's assessment, telling the Senate committee the agency's report on the leak wouldn't say the spill was the result of negligence.

The head of the committee, Senator Rodrigo Rollemberg, and Prosecutor Santos de Oliveira disagreed with their assessment, however.

Rollemberg said directly that Chevron was negligent, and added that the petroleum agency should have been more rigorous. Santos de Oliveira said that Chevron lacked the ability to manage the accident, and that the state needs to prosecute Chevron to send a message.

"The state needs to respond to show that Brazil is a country that complies with and enforces its own environmental legislation," he told the Senate committee.

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


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Tommy | Mar. 23, 2012
After having worked down there for over a year, I know some of the people there are greedy and exaggerate. Just ask a decent brasilian, you wont find one in Rio though.

Barbara Saunders | Mar. 23, 2012
YIKES! Order Sensitivity Training for Chevron post-haste! This is about as if BP had told the grieving Macondo families: "Our safety record is one of the best in the industry. We are very sorry these workers died, but we are pleased the it was only four workers."

david | Mar. 23, 2012
Sorry but cvx is known to lie all the time in these events. watch and see. Good job Brazil - put them all in jail and be sure to seize their emails and look for evidence of shredding and deleting. The san ramon based company lies to protect itself.

mike | Mar. 23, 2012
Chevron is caught in a disagreement between Brazilian states over oil revenue. By over reacting to this incident the individual Brazilian States could seriously discourage some Majors out of the Brazilian market.

Rolly | Mar. 23, 2012
I personally believe that the limits are always being pushed and the safety margins slighted. Having been in the industry for over two decades I have seen some pretty shady goings on when it come to well planning and execution. Cutting corners for the sake of dollars is not supposed to be accepted in today's view but we are constantly battling the dollar. BP and their spill is a very good example as to where no one wanted to be responsible to call a time out and rethink the "what ifs" of the program. I think the oil companies need to be more responsible for their actions or inactions and start thinking about the global aspect in regards to future generations instead of the almighty dollar.

jim Walker | Mar. 23, 2012
I think Rollemberg and Oliveira need to go to get their headsout of their rear ends and apply some common sense. Its going to sting when the courts rule in favor of Chevron, Transocean, and the individual defendants. This whole issue has turned into a circus around the world and quite frankly I am embarassed for the Brazilian people. This is so obnoxious, and I cannot believe that the Govt is allowing these idiots to continue with litigation. The statement if claim is ridiculous and simply a cash grab. I would question how these proceedings would differ if it was Petrobras heads on the table!!! Forever an emerging Country at best...

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