Chevron Expulsion From Brazil 'Unlikely,' Says Petrobras

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Brazilian oil company Petrobras, which helps U.S.-based Chevron develop offshore oil fields in Brazil, said regulators there are not likely to shut down Chevron's operations in the Frade oil field in the wake of oil spills. 

The comments were made during a call with investors, as Chevron executives face possible jail time and the company risks billions in environmental fines for two separate and minor oil leaks found near Chevron's operations.

In November, a company appraisal well ruptured the sea floor, allowing 2,400 to 3,000 barrels of oil to escape in the ocean. In March, another leak was reported in the same general vicinity as the first, with an amount estimated at one barrel of oil seeping from the ocean floor.

Brazilian prosecutors are charging Chevron with an $11 billion fine for each leak. In total, the Brazilian spills are less than 1 percent of the oil spilled during BP's Deepwater Horizon accident of 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

But despite the ongoing lawsuits, Petrobras' exploration and production director Jose Formigli said Brazil is unlikely to shut down Chevron's operations, which could restart after investigations into the causes of the November spill are complete, Reuters reported.

Late in March, Brazilian Energy Minister Edison Lobao said neither spill was large enough to warrant the company's expulsion.

Chevron has estimated the Frade field could hold as much as 300 million barrels of recoverable oil, and it first started producing oil there in 2009.

In Thursday trading in New York, Chevron was up $1 to $101.10 a share.

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