Brazil’s National Petroleum Agency (ANP) told reporters this Tuesday, November 22, that the Chevron’s oil leak in the Campos Basin off the coast of Rio has been reduced to about 2 square kilometers.
The spill in the well operated by the American multinational grew as large as 163 square km, but had been reduced to 12 square km by the end of the last week. The reduction of the oil slick was observed in an overflight on Monday.
ANP confirmed it issued two infraction notices against Chevron. The first, at 1 pm, for breach of the Well Abandonment Plan presented by the company to the agency. The second, at 4 pm, for having tampered with information about the monitoring of the seabed. The amount of fines will be set at the end of the administrative process.
IBAMA, Brazil’s Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, also fined Chevron Monday for 50 million reais, based on the Oil Law (Law No. 9.966/2000). The work of the permanent cementation are well under way, under technical supervision of the ANP that are embedded in the platform.
On Monday Ibama announced it would fine US Chevron 50 million Reais, nearly 28 million dollars, for a continuing oil spill off the coast of Rio de Janeiro and threatened the company with several more similar fines in the coming days.
The agency said through its press office that it would fine the oil company the maximum 50 million Reais allowed under current Brazilian law.
Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said at a press conference in Brazilian capital Brasília, however, that as an investigation into the leak continues, Chevron could face “five or six” other fines of the same amount if more infractions are found.
Rio de Janeiro state’s environment secretary, Carlos Minc, said the national government will also ask Chevron to pay for damages caused by the Atlantic spill.
“We believe the accident could have been avoided. There was an environmental crime,” Minc told Globo TV and other Brazilian media. “They hid information and their emergency team took almost ten days to start acting.”
Teixeira and other officials said Chevron hid information about the extent of the spill from the Brazilian government, took far too long to begin clean-up operations and didn’t have the proper equipment to contain the leak.
Chevron Corp. officials have accepted responsibility for the spill but reject accusations they did not notify local authorities quickly enough or properly manage the cleanup.
The National Petroleum Agency said more than 110.000 gallons (416.300 liters) of crude oil may have reached the ocean floor since the leak began on November 7.
George Buck, chief operating officer for Chevron’s Brazilian division, said Sunday the spill occurred because Chevron underestimated the pressure in an underwater reservoir.
Chevron was drilling a testing well about 370 kilometers off the northeastern coast of Rio de Janeiro when the leak started as crude rushed upward and eventually escaped into the surrounding seabed.
Eighteen boats work on a rotating basis on the slick, with a varying number of vessels working simultaneously, Buck said.