Brazilian Regulators Continue Monitoring Chevron Undersea Oil Leak

 
on March 21 2012 9:30 AM

Chevron (NYSE: CVX) officials announced Wednesday the company's most recent oil spill off the coast of Brazil is not linked to a previous oil leak in November.

Tests of oil dropletts that seeped from the ocean floor last week showed they were chemically differet from the thousands of barrels of oil that leaked months ago, reported Reuters.

On March 15, Chevron asked permission to shut down its operations because a new oil leak was identified on the ocean floor. The same area in November was the scene of a much larger leak when an appraisal well experienced a spike in pressure which fissured the ocean floor.

Roughly 2,400 barrels of oil leaked into the ocean before the leak was contained. Chevron said  the small amount of oil that leaked last week is being captured in a containment devise and that oil on the surface of the water extended less than one mile and was less than a millimeter thick.

Members of the Brazilian navy were scheduled to monitor Chevron's offshore operations Tuesday as the country's petroleum regulators continue monitoring the company's recent oil leak. 

The Brazilian Navy, regulators say, has been monitoring the new leak since it happened, and has so far, there does not appear to be an increase in the amount of leaking oil, said ANP, the country's petroleum regulator, on its website.

The country's oil regulators  on Monday set up a committee composed of Chevron, Petrobras and Frad Japan Petroleum Ltd., officials the point to present  studies and information to support a complete understanding of the event in question. The committee will be observed by the country's Ministry of Mines and will be coordinated by ANP regulators.

The company has identified a small new seep in the field, Chevron said in a statement. The company will conduct a comprehensive technical study and prepare a complementary study to better understand the geological features of the area, working with partners.

Underwater filming by ANP last week confirmed there are five location along an 800 meter fissure where oil droplets were seeping from the ground. On Friday, the country's regulators told Chevron to totally interrupt the production of the Frade oil field.

On Monday Brazilian authorities detained 17 high-ranking Chevron and Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG), executives, among them Chevron Brazil's Chief of Operations George Buck, and barred them from leaving the country.

Chevron is facing an $11 billion civil suit for its spill in November and Brazilian prosecutors said this week they will likely file criminal charges on Wednesday.

Neither Chevron Brazil nor its executives have been formally notified of any action by the judiciary yet, Chevron said. Any legal decision will be abided by the company and its employees.  We will defend the company and its employees.

Chevron shares fell 8 cents to $109 in early Wednesday trading.

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