A Brazilian federal prosecutor filed criminal charges against U.S. oil company Chevron and drill-rig operator Transocean for a November oil spill off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, the prosecutor's office said in a statement on Wednesday.

The prosecutor, Eduardo Santos de Oliveira, also filed criminal charges against 17 key executives and employees at Chevron and Transocean, owner of the world's largest oil rig fleet. Among the defendants is George Buck, a U.S. citizen in charge of Chevron's operations in Brazil, the statement said.

Sentences could reach up to 31 years in jail, the prosecutor's office said.

The charges, filed with a federal court in the Brazilian city of Campos de Goytacazes, will require the approval of a judge to proceed, a process that could take hours or days, the prosecutor's office said.

(Reporting by Jeb Blount; Editing by Todd Benson and Bill Trott)