Brazil Reports Another Oil Spill Near Rio de Janiero

   on December 19 2011 5:35 PM

Brazilian authorities announced this week they have located another oil spill off the coast of Rio de Janiero state.

Roughly 2,600 gallons of oil have leaked off the Brazilian coast since Sunday. The spill, reported Agence France Presse, threatens an area of the country's coast line that Carlos Minc, Environment Secretary in Rio de Janeiro state, called an ecological treasure.

Cause of the leak is under investigation, but it's tied to a rig operated by Mitsui Ocean Development & Engineering Co. Ltd. (Modec), a Japanese-based general contractor that specializes in offshore floating production of oil.

Calls to Modec were not immediately returned for comment by press time.

The spill is located near the Ilha Grande bay, home to pristine beaches and turquoise water.

The French news wire reported Brazilian authorities slapped the Japanese company with a $5.4 million fine for the oil spill, which is the second in just as many months.

Modec's fine could be one of the harshest, especially if authorities follow through with additional fines.

In November, Chevron Corp. officials said they'd agree to pay $28 million for a spill at one of its wells that occured earlier in the month. Although the spill has been described as minor, prosecutors are suing the U.S. company for $10.7 billion.

In the past year, the country's state-owned oil company Petrobras had to pay $43 million in fines for 57 oil spills that leaked a total of 4,200 barrels.

Per gallon of oil spilled, however, the Brazilian state-owned company for all of 2010 paid $243 in fines. That is less compared to the $2,076 Modec is paying and the $277 Chevron agreed to pay, the latter of which could change if the U.S. company's tab is increased because of the lawsuit.

The harshness with which Brazilian officials are reprimanding foreign companies could dry up their willingness to enter the Brazilian market, according to CNN Money.

With the country's officials trying to grow its oil industry, Brazil will be relying on foreign investments and expertise, but slamming them with fines and lawsuits may not be the best way to go about promoting the country's huge oil reserves, it said.

A new law also states the country's oil giant Petrobras will have a 30 percent minimum stake in new oil ventures - which means more profits taken away from foreign companies, CNN reported.

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