Head of Chevron Unit Can Leave Brazil After Paying Bail

State prosecutors had filed legal action against Chevron and Transocean over the November incident, seeking $11 billion for what they have called "immeasurable" environmental damage.

After posting bail of $245,000 in connection with a major spill off Rio de Janeiro, the head Chevron's (IW 500/3) Brazil unit will be allowed to leave the country, a court official said Thursday.

The official said judge Marcelo Luzio Marques Araujo set the bail amount to make sure George Buck returns to Brazil to stand trial "each time he is summoned."

Brazilian authorities had confiscated the passports of Buck and 16 other people linked to Chevron and its driller Transocean following last November's spill in the Chevron-operated Frade field located off Rio de Janeiro state.

Brazil's national oil regulator estimated that 2,400 barrels of crude were spilled in the November accident, which led authorities to suspend Chevron's drilling operations and to deny the company access to huge new offshore fields.

In March, Chevron put drilling in Brazil on hold after the spill.

In August, a Brazilian court ordered Chevron and Transocean to stop their oil drilling and shipping activities within 30 days.

State prosecutors had filed legal action against Chevron and Transocean over the November incident, seeking $11 billion for what they have called "immeasurable" environmental damage.

In March, another oil spill was detected at a depth of 4,200 feet in the Frade field, in which state-owned Brazilian oil company Petrobras has a 30% stake, not far from the site of the bigger spill that occurred in November.

Speaking in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, Thursday, Don Stelling, Chevron president for Latin America, vowed that his company would not leave Brazil. "We are there to stay," he told reporters, stressing that Chevron was working to "revive the Frade project" in which Brazil's state-owned energy giant Petrobras has a 30% stake.

"They (Petrobras) have been backing us, we are working together," Stelling said.

Brazilian press reports, meanwhile, said Kelly Hartshorn, head of Chevron's deep-water operations in Angola, would take over from Buck who is to be transferred to Houston.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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