Photo: Chevron Oil Spill in Brazil
U.S. oil company Chevron Corp. announced it has detected a small crude leak at the same field off Brazil’s coast where another spill occurred last November.
Company spokespersons said they detected a “small new seep” at the Frade field, located 120 kilometers (75 miles) off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state in the Campos basin, Brazil’s largest oil region.
Chevron said it immediately acted to recover the leaked crude, which seeped out of a new crack in the ocean floor, about three kilometers (1.85 miles) from the site of the November spill.
Following this latest leak, Chevron requested authorization from Brazil’s ANP oil regulator to temporarily suspend field production operations at Frade, Chevron Brazil’s corporate affairs director, Rafael Jaen, said Thursday at a press conference.
The company said it took the decision as a “precautionary measure” and also installed a system to capture small bubbles of oil that leaked from the crack in the sea floor.
The ANP confirmed the new spill and said it was small in size, although it did not give a volume estimate.
Chevron estimated that 2,400 barrels of crude leaked in November from sea-floor cracks near an exploratory well in the Frade field, although Brazilian authorities say they believe the amount was nearly 15,000 barrels.
Jaen said there is no evidence Chevron caused this latest leak is related to the November spill.
He added that Chevron’s minority partners in the Frade field - Brazilian state-controlled Petrobras (30 percent stake) and Japan’s Frade Japao Petroleo (18.26 percent) - supported the decision to temporary halt production.
Brazilian authorities have imposed several fines on Chevron and the company also faces lawsuits seeking to ban it from operating in Brazil and force it to pay steep compensation for the November spill.
The ANP has barred Chevron from drilling new wells in Brazil until the investigation into the November spill has concluded.
Following that accident, Chevron acknowledged that the cracks in the ocean floor occurred because it miscalculated the pressure in the reservoir.
Chevron currently extracts 79,000 barrels of crude per day at its operations in Brazil.