Brazilian Police Accuse Chevron of Environmental Crimes

The allegations, which also involve officials from drilling company Transocean, stem from a police investigation ordered after an oil spill off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.

Brazilian Federal Police concluded in a probe on the Nov. 8 oil spill that the local president of Chevron and 16 other oil executives committed environmental crimes, local media reported Wednesday.

The allegations, which also involve officials from drilling company Transocean, stem from a police investigation ordered after an oil spill off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.

The report, which has been sent to prosecutors, concluded that Chevron and Transocean caused environmental damage and hid information from authorities, police inspector Fabio Scliar told the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper.

"I am convinced that the company's institutional policy is reckless regarding drilling oil wells in Brazil. Therefore, the executives are responsible," Scliar said. That includes Chevron Brazil President George Buck, he said.

Scliar later told Globo television that Chevron and Transocean "were working at the limit" of their capacity.

It is up to prosecutors to decide if charges should follow.

Prosecutors previously announced legal action against Chevron, its Brazilian unit and Transocean, seeking $11 billion over the spill at a production well at the Frade field, 230 miles off Rio de Janeiro state on Nov. 9. The well is located 3,900 feet below the ocean surface.

The state-run National Petroleum Agency calculated that some 3,000 barrels of crude were spilled.

Authorities suspended all of Chevron's drilling operations on Nov. 23 and denied it access to huge new offshore fields, which Brazil's national petroleum agency says have reserves that could surpass 100 billion barrels of high-quality recoverable oil.

Chevron faces a slew of fines from federal and Rio state authorities over the spill that together could exceed $145 million.

The firm accounts for 3.6% of the oil produced in Brazil, or 80,425 barrels a day, and 1% of the natural gas, according to official figures.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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