Chevron is witnessing the wrath of the Brazilian government after its second oil spill with criminal prosecutions likely against senior Chevron staff who have been barred from leaving the country.
The company was responsible for about a 2,400 barrels leak in the Frade field off the coast of Rio de Janeiro last November and further small leakages this year.
A Brazilian federal prosecutor has filed criminal charges against Chevron, Transocean and 17 employees with very significant prison terms – up to 31 years – possible. That follows hard on the heels of a $11 billion civil suit against Chevron and rig operator Transocean.
Chevron has retaliated against the moves with a strongly-worded release. “These charges are outrageous and without merit. Once all the facts are fully examined, they will demonstrate that Chevron and its employees responded appropriately and responsibly to the incident … There is no technical or factual evidence demonstrating any willful or negligent conduct by Chevron or its employees.”
The moves are putting the willies up other foreign operators in the region who are already confined to the less juicy fields, dominated by state-run Petrobras. If carried through, criminal prosecutions and massive fines would make oil prospecting even more state dominated at a time when Brazil urgently needs to bring in more foreign monies to maintain its ambitious oil investment plans.