Brazil Oil Workers Union Files Civil Suit Against Chevron, Transocean

Brazil Oil Workers Union Files Civil Suit Against Chevron, Transocean

RIO DE JANEIRO - The union representing oil workers in Brazil has filed a civil lawsuit against U.S. oil major Chevron Corp. and rig operator Transocean Ltd. for the companies' roles in a November oil spill, asking the government to revoke Chevron's offshore concession contract.

"[Chevron] has demonstrated that it is not technically prepared to produce oil in deep waters, especially in an environmentally sensitive area," Joao Antonio de Moraes, coordinator of the Federacao Unica dos Petroleiros union, told Dow Jones Newswires in a telephone interview Wednesday. FUP is an umbrella union comprised of 13 separate oil-industry unions across Brazil.

The lawsuit does not seek any economic penalties, but asks the government to rescind the concession contract granted to Chevron to operate the offshore Frade field in the Campos Basin, where more than 90% of Brazil's crude oil is produced. A drilling accident in November caused an estimated 2,400 to 3,000 barrels of crude to seep into the Atlantic Ocean from cracks in the seabed.

"The primary motive for filing this lawsuit is the way Chevron has treated the Brazilian people represented by the government since last November," Moraes said. The union official characterized Chevron's behaviour during the course of the accident's investigation as "disrespectful" and cited "omissions of information" requested by regulators.

FUP, as the union is also called, is now waiting for the court system to decide where the case will be heard, Moraes said. FUP does not represent any Chevron or Transocean employees in Brazil, Moraes said, noting that was also a point of contention between the union and two companies. "We should represent [Chevron and Transocean employees], but [the two companies] don't respect our representation either," Moraes said.

Chevron has said that it has cooperated fully with regulators investigating the accident. Chevron and Transocean, as well as 16 executives of the two companies, last week were charged with environmental crimes related to the spill.

Chevron and Transocean officials were not immediately available to comment.

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


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Ron Heffernan | Mar. 29, 2012
I guess they forgot the sinking of P-36 in Brazil the largest rig ever built at that time. It sounds like Hugo Chavez in Venezuala where another rig went down has been in touch with Evo Morales who hates everybody has been in touch with Ecuador President Correa and they are litle upset about the $ 8 B fraud judgement that they tried to put onto Chevron when they bought Texaco. Nothing has changed down there only Columbia is the one that sees the light..

Bill S. | Mar. 29, 2012
Same old South America. Invest at your own risk.

Paolo Maggi | Mar. 28, 2012
I think that this is more a political matter than a real expression of concern for workers and environment. We have facts to analyse here. Nobody got injured. There was no damage to equipment or installations. The complex stop whatsoever activity and concentrate on solving the problem. The leak was contained at the best technicall availble and possible at the moment of accident. The amount of given or taken spill is a very minor one and it has been contained asap. No oil reach the cost or any other environmental high sensitive area due to the fast response and actions. The fact that no workers are represented by the Brasil unions means nothing since it is a voluntary decision of the worker. Brasil burn miles of Amazon forest everyday with total lack of union workers control and representation. I do not see any suit failed against such or any manager arrested so it is obviously not a case of an environment sensitivity from Union and or from Brasilian Government. The fact that Brasil government let go free a convicted and known Italian terrorist while arresting workers for an accident of at present very minor consequences is telling also that is not a sense of justice. It is a mere use of power and politics to gain advantages in one way or another. It is the usual political struggle against Internation Oil companies which are perceived at best as barbarians so to kick them out without return for their investments and show to the world who is the real good people fighting against the vampires. In reality in this way investments will be discouraged. a message to international workers will be sent that they will not be secure in Brasil while terrorists are and so on. Mere politics and thief attitude toward oil companies and foreigner investments. In addition, as usual, everybody claim for being the only one caring for the world but nobody wants to walk with vegetable made shoes. Car is better especially if ther is a way not to pay for it I really do not see here a willing to understand and verify but at best only sort of revenge and take advantage of the accident. We will see what will happen next. Regards Paolo

mike stanovich | Mar. 28, 2012
This is just a cheap ploy by this specific union to try and strong arm Chevron/ Transocean into signing them on as the union representing their workers. In Brazil, it is mandatory that ALL workers be represented by a union (it is not a free choice). The company must then pay an annual fee to this union for each employee represented This is all about money.

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