Brazil Court Orders Chevron, Transocean to Halt Operations in 30 Days

RIO DE JANEIRO - A Brazilian court levied an injunction that bans U.S. oil major Chevron Corp. and drilling company Transocean Ltd. from extracting or transporting oil in the country, according to a statement published on the court's website Wednesday.

Chevron and Transocean have 30 days to halt their activities in Brazil or face daily fines of 500 million Brazilian reais ($250 million), the court said. The injunction was handed down on appeal after initial attempts by a federal prosecutor to impose the ban in April were denied.

In a statement, Transocean said that it is evaluating the latest development. "Transocean rigs continue to operate in Brazil," the company said. "We maintain that this case is without merit."

Chevron didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

The two companies face civil and criminal lawsuits for the roles in a November accident at the Chevron-operated Frade offshore oil field, which caused 3,700 barrels of crude to seep from cracks in the seabed. Both companies have denied any wrongdoing.

Last month, Brazil's National Petroleum Agency, or ANP, cited Chevron for 25 infractions related to the incident and said that the company would be fined nearly up to the BRL50 million allowed by law. The total fine will be determined later in August, ANP officials said at the time.

The ANP, meanwhile, said that it found no fault with steps taken by Transocean and didn't censure the company.

Despite the incident, ANP officials said that they would meet with Chevron to discuss restarting output at Frade, which was shuttered voluntarily by the company in March after new oil seeps were discovered.


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