Chevron Seriously Underestimates Oil Spill Off Brazilian Coast

Chevron initially claimed only 400 to 650 barrels of oil leaked from a spill 120 miles off the coast of Brazil. However, environmental group Skytruth said satellite images showed the spill to have released as much as 157,000 gallons a day, over ten times larger than Chevron’s estimate of 330 barrels a day.

Skytruth reported on its blog on Friday that Chevron and Brazilian authorities claim the well is now sealed. Brazilian Federal Police launched an investigation into the causes and size of the spill, Skytruth also reported.

Although Brazilian energy minister Edison Lobao told the BBC that the oil spill “was not as serious as had been announced,” he said that if Chevron “is not fulfilling its responsibilities, it will be more severely punished.” Hopefully Chevron will be more severely punished than its counterpart BP was for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Brazilian officials sound like they are serious about punishing Chevron for the oil spill. “We are going to demand compensation for (the damage done) to birds, fish, dolphins and fishermen,” Rio state’s Environment Secretary Carlos Minc told Globo television. “The company must be punished in an exemplary manner.”

Offshore oil drilling is an activity that can result in oil spills. As Fabio Scliar, head of the Brazilian federal police’s environment department, said, “There is no doubt that an offense occurred. The spill results from the drilling activity.”

Skytruth puts it more bluntly: “We hope all of this information becomes public: deepwater drilling is a global business and these were two of the biggest global players, so lessons learned from this incident will apply here in the U.S. too.”