Brazilian federal police have opened a probe into US oil giant Chevron over alleged pollution linked to an oil spill at its offshore Frade project, local media reported Thursday.
Brazil's energy regulator ANP said oil seeps off the coast of Rio de Janeiro were caused by a well drilled by Chevron at Frade, where the company has estimated as much as 650 barrels had been released causing a sheen on the sea surface.
The daily newspaper Folha de S. Paulo cited Fabio Scliar of the Federal Police's division of environment and historical patrimony as saying that information provided by Chevron to the police did not match what police saw upon a visit to the site.
Initially, the reports do not correspond to reality Folha quoted Scliar saying. I want to understand what's happening.
Energy Minister Edison Lobao told reporters in Brasilia that the leak is not good, but neither is it as grave as is being said
He said the ANP which is investigating the leak could take legal action against the company if there are grounds for it and warned that Chevron would be held to account for any breaches of conduct. Lobao did not express any specific complaint against Chevron however.
If Chevron is not doing its part, it will be severely punished, Lobao said.
In an e-mailed response to reporters' questions about the investigation, a Chevron spokesman said the company continues to fully inform and cooperate with Brazilian government agencies as part of the company's response efforts
The company on Tuesday said it had started plugging the well that was suspected of causing the oil seeps and that the seeps appeared to have stopped.
On Sunday, Chevron said the sheen has spread over 163 square kilometres from the well area. The company has vessels in the area working to either recover or disperse the oil.