Event Report

Deatils of Situation Update

Environment Pollution in Brazil on Tuesday, 15 November, 2011 at 05:48 (05:48 AM) UTC.


Updated: Friday, 02 December, 2011 at 05:53 UTC
An oil spill by Chevron off the southeast coast of Brazil has resulted in an oil leak of more than 110 gallons into the Atlantic Ocean. Since the spill, Chevron has been banned from drilling for oil in Brazil until an investigation into the site of the leak is completed. One of the largest deepwater heavy oil projects in the world was recently discovered in the Frade Field off the Brazilian coast. The well that was the site of the leak is one of Chevron's “biggest capital investments,” according to the company's website. The Frade Field is estimated to have a minimum reserve worth of 50 billion barrels of oil. George Buck, the chief operating officer for Chevron's Brazilian division, told the Associated Press that the spill occurred because Chevron underestimated the pressure in an underwater reservoir. This underestimation caused crude oil to rush up a bore-hole and eventually escape into the surrounding seabed. Oil has leaked through at least seven narrow fissures on the ocean floor, all within 160 meters of the wellhead.

Brazil's Environment Ministry (IBAMA) has fined Chevron nearly $28 million, and the company could face five or six times that amount in fines based on the findings of IBAMA. Andre Obata, a sophomore from Brazil majoring in ICS-Communications explained, “IBAMA is in charge of protecting the environment in Brazil, and they already charged the company a lot of money and made them cease drilling. If they look into it and find that a lack of responsibility caused the leak, then I think they should shut down Chevron's drilling. I don't think that oil extraction is a bad thing because we need it, but if they aren't doing all their safety checks then they shouldn't be drilling.” Officials from the ministry have criticized Chevron and the regulatory agency for not fully sharing information about the spill early on, and not having proper emergency equipment on hand to deal with the spill. Chevron has taken full responsibility for the spill, but denies the accusations. Fabio Marques, a sophomore from Brazil majoring in supply chain management and information systems, said “If Chevron cannot drill safely, then the government should reevaluate Chevron's eligibility to drill. Chevron waited ten days before notifying the Brazilian government of the spill, and didn’t do anything about it.”

The drilling contractor is Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig that BP Oil Company was leasing at the time of last years oil spill. Currently the spill is confined to less than two square miles. “This is a huge test for Brazil. Being one of the richest nations in oil,” said Marques, “Brazil will have to know what to do to protect the environment. As one of the leading nations in oil they will need to be responsible for protecting the environment. This will be a huge test for the government.”