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Brazilian federal police open a probe into an oil spill from a Chevron well

Thursday, November 17th 2011 - 22:11 UTC
Full article 24 comments

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. Read full article


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  • GeoffWard2

    A oil spill is not the same as an oil seep.

    A single well in the extraction array seems associated with the seepage; the well is being/has been plugged.

    Chevron/Transocean Campos oil seep/sheen : 650 barrels should be compared to
    Deepwater Horizon (well):492,000 - 627,000 tonnes
    Ixtoc (well): 454,000 - 480,000 tonnes
    Torrey Canyon (foundering): 80,000 - 119,000 tonnes
    Exxon Valdez (foundering): 37,000 - 104,000 tonnes

    Nov 18th, 2011 - 08:11 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Forgetit87

    Interesting, though not unpredictable, that the media has sided with Chevron. Had the spill been caused by Petrobrás, no doubt the media would use this in its campaign against the government, and Veja, against national SOEs in general.

    Nov 19th, 2011 - 07:53 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • GeoffWard2


    Nov 19th, 2011 - 09:21 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Forgetit87

    Blind partisan.

    Nov 20th, 2011 - 01:52 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Forgetit86

    “Interesting, though not unpredictable, that the media has sided with Chevron. Had the spill been caused by Petrobrás, no doubt the media would use this in its campaign against the government, and Veja, against national SOEs in general.”

    And of course, you, Geoff, a puppet of the media whose opinions never diverge, either to the right or the left, from that which the media feeds to its viewer- and readership, would be right up there, along with the torch carrying mob of journalists, screaming against the government and Petrobrás, who of course is inefficient for being a (1) Brazilian (2) state-owned enterprise.

    The press has not even developed a position of its own regarding the disaster caused by the American company. It has instead repeated verbatim whatever says Chevron's in its press relases.

    Nov 20th, 2011 - 03:33 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Forgetit87

    Nov 20th, 2011 - 03:51 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • GeoffWard2

    Forgetit #5
    you say
    'The press has not even developed a position of its own . . . . repeating verbatim whatever says Chevron's in its press relases.'

    The early media report says
    'Fabio Scliar (Federal Police's division of environment and historical patrimony) said that information provided by Chevron to the police did not match what police saw upon a visit to the site.
    The police said “Initially, the reports do not correspond to reality” '

    This seems like pretty balanced early-reporting by the press.
    They are not expert in this matter, neither are the police; thus
    1. a police 'probe' is necessary (if they are the correct national investigative agency), and
    2. press detailed reporting waits for Expert Comment - of which there was much in the serious Brasilian media yesterday and the day before.

    I await clarification about whether it is a 'Spill', a well-head pressure blow, or a geological seepage from the well-head area. all three terms are being used by the media, and two out of three must be wrong. The deepwater cameras should have revealed this by now.

    And I have no beef with Petrobras as an extractive corporation; it is no better or worse than many other, it is building knowledge about deepwater extraction - and its problems - in conjunction with its linked foreign companies.

    I would rather Petrobras had no experience of the problems, but that is not the nature of the business.
    And Petrobras is lucky to get its experience with the small (so far) Chevron/Transocean Campos oil seep/sheen, rather than having to con-jointly cope with a Deepwater Horizon-type well blow-out.

    Nov 20th, 2011 - 11:35 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Forgetit87


    Your little apology that the media's inefficiency is due to its lack of experts on oil issues is pathetic. I doubt you'd be saying something as ridiculous had the spill not been caused by a big Western enterprise.

    Many blogs brought and updated news on the spill faster than the did mainstream media. For instance, the blog of Rep. Brizola Neto, himself no connaisseur of energy issues. This points either that the media is uncapable to investigate further on whatever it is fed (surely not the impression one can get when it contrives to dig one corruption allegation against a federal authority per day), or that it is uninterested in pursuing the news much further.

    Chevron acted criminally and recklessly, tried to hide its crap for more than a week, and now refuses to clarify the situation as it believes that it'll be doing less harm for itself the less it speaks. The media's instance towards Chevron, I repeat, is quite meek, and would be far more invasive, inquiring, perhaps even flamboyantly accusatory, had the perpetrator of all those mistakes been Petrobrás. And I know you would too, since you lack the ability to think independently. Petrobrás has been the most active company in deep oil drilling in Brazil's coast for quite some time. And so far it has failed to screw things up like Chevron did. I doubt Chevron lacks the technology for safe oil drilling. But I know, from reading reports on the events, that it was reckless and irresponsible. I have no reason to conflate that foreign enterprise with Petrobrás, like you're conveniently doing now.

    Nov 20th, 2011 - 08:19 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Forgetit86

    There's no merit in noticing that Chevron has been lying all along AFTER that the federal police produces evidence Chevron has been doing that. Had Chevron been, not a powerful, famous, deep-pocketed, foreign company, but a cabinet minister, I'm sure the media wouldn't have taken so long to form its own judgments on the matter.

    Folha says Chevron has been lying for 5 days; it was 10 days, actually.

    The press ignored initial reports of the oil spill to instead concentrate on goofy allegations against the minister-of-the-week. All the media did by then was to repeat verbatim Chevron's press releases alleging it had been doing everything possible to stall the spill. The media's role, apparenrly, is not to show inquisitiveness towards deep-pocketed foreign corporations who cause environmental crisis in the country :

    More on the media's ineptitude and bias:

    It was Petrobrás - not the “very qualified” (in the recent words of David Zilberstajn, FHC's son-in-law and minister of energy issues) Chevron - who spotted the oil spill and lent Chevron the technology to investigate it:

    Nov 20th, 2011 - 08:50 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Forgetit87

    Chevron failed to clarify the situation in part because no Brazilian journal asked that it does so; press chooses instead to prais Chevron's “effors” to control the oil spill, apparently echoing the company's press releases:

    Nov 20th, 2011 - 08:59 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • GeoffWard2

    you are obviously monitoring this closely - as you should be, this being so close to your country's shore and representing a loss of/to national assets.

    Can you post the details of Chevron's 'recklessness' and 'irresponsibility'. As you are publishing with multiple personas just use as many words and pages as you need to pin down the liability, etc.

    I will read your every word, *but if you use blog-postings please say where and when so I can get some measure of your source authenticity*.

    You are the only one on Mercopress doing homework on this spill/seep/blow-out, so quite a lot of people are relying on you to do this without too much bias.

    Nov 20th, 2011 - 10:30 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Forgetit87

    * Should've written “excuse”, rather than “apology”, on my #8 post.

    As for Chevron's ineptitude, the CEO of the Brazilian subsidiary has already detailed in what ways Chevron's - or Transocean's - procedure did not comply with basic safety measures. Read by yourself. There's no reason for me to give off details with my own words, since I am myself not an expert on oil issues.

    All links I've recommended lead to Rep. Brizola Neto's blog. It's a very public blog, and from a very public face. As such he can be held accountable for whatever misinformation he feeds to his public. So far, however, what I see is that, far from spreading lies to his public, Mr. Brizola Neto has in fact given to his readership an accurate account of the facts regarding the spill days before big, powerful, well-connected media outlets such as Folha and O Globo managed to clarify the issues to their own readers (which was only after the Federal Police said it would be investigating irregular, criminal activities by Chevron).

    As I said, press interest on the spill would be much greater had it been Petrobrás's work - for, were that the case, the spill could be used for the press to escalate its anti-PT, or anti-SOE, agenda. Don't forget that already in 2010 big journals engaged in an anti-Petrobrás campaign of sorts, full of misrepresentations that Petrobrás's own blog refuted.

    Nov 21st, 2011 - 12:08 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • GeoffWard2

    ”Energy Today':

    Chevron Brazil’s president, George Buck, said on 18th Nov. that the oil company was responsible for the accident by underestimating the reservoir pressure. The modeling of the reservoir gave incorrect information about the pressure.

    Consequently, Chevron did not apply appropriate cementation of the lining of the drill string to protect the rock around the well casing. On piercing the training the ‘kick’ brought oil into the well at high pressure, oil went into the bore-lining, infiltrating the overlaying fissured rock and rose to the surface across an area of ocean floor. There was no leak through the well/blowout-preventer.

    Over the next 13 days they closed the well with high density drilling mud, then cement-sealed off the well. There is still some residual seep from the fissured strata above the sealed-off reservoir.

    This is not the first time - and will not be the last - that the modeling of well characteristics looks right but proves wrong in some respect. Here, the model under-estimated well pressure and applied technology appropriate to the calculated pressure. Sods-law provided a fissured overlay. Even so, two weeks is a remarkably short time to correct a deepwater marine oil extraction accident.

    No panic by the companies, the Government and its agencies, the media or the general public.

    Some would say this is a model example of good practice in the face of the (inevitable) accidents that happen in the oil extractive industries.

    Brasil would be wise to invest heavily in the training of a core of their best mathematicians in the area of stoicastic mathematical modelling of submarine geologies.

    Nov 21st, 2011 - 11:09 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Forgetit87

    Rascal, vile, dumb man.

    Chevron LIED for TEN DAYS before admitting it had caused the oil spill. It tried everything to avoid dodge the facts, from saying that the spill was a phenomenon of nature to saying that no spill had been caused from the top of the well. Ofc no spill came from the top of the well; it came from the bottom. That's like Bill Clinton saying he didn't have sex with “that woman”, since that was only a blowjob. Chevron refuses to give clarifications as to the situation of the spill, presuming that the more it speaks the more damage it does to ITSELF.

    Chevron's knowingly understimates how grave the situation is. More than a week ago it estimated that the spill had leaks about 650 barrels of oil. The govt itselt estimated 1,000. And independent analysts almost 4,000 barrels. By now, many believe the spill has covered a sea area superior to that of Rio city.

    And all this because, apparently, Chevron was trying to reach the pre-salt oil it has NO PERMISSION to drill - thus disrespecting the sovereignty of the country it is operating on.

    No shit that there's been no panic among media and the public. The public, of course, is fed news by the media. If the media has no interest to reporting on that matter, if it doesn't believe it should be pressing Chevron to be more transparent on its activities, if the media thinks instead that finding out what kind of planes the minister-of-the-week enjoys flying in - how then will the public show alertness? how, if it is purposely kept in the shadow by both Chevron and the press?

    Big f***ing model example of good practice, that of Chevron!

    You've just shown your biases. I have no doubt that had Petrobrás done a third of Chevron's mistakes, your attitude would be far less ADULATORY.

    I have links supporting EVERY single allegation I made above. So don't you dare ignore me like you did to the many, many informational links I showed above. You should be deported from this country along with Chevron, petty man.

    Nov 21st, 2011 - 06:53 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • GeoffWard2

    No Forgetit.
    Not rascal, not vile, and certainly not dumb.

    You provided the links to the information that informs my posting at #13. And you were so insistant that they were authoritative.

    My comment in my last para is a personal word of advice.

    Your ire seems to be focussed on the lack of detailed information reaching the public from day 1. I guess you have never experienced a situation where the dilemma of releasing the wrong information before the right information had been elucidated would susequently feature in legal judgements. Oil companies suffer from this with each and every accident. Their primary concern is to avoid wrong statements and to offer right statements when the information becomes available. Some companies fall short of best practice but in my experience Chevron was definitely a 'best practice' company. I have little knowledge however of Chevron Brasil - it may have been contaminated with the Brasilian disease; equally I have less knowledge of Chevron since its more recent acquisitions and amalgamations.

    NOW, you say this accident happened because “Chevron was trying to reach the pre-salt oil it has NO PERMISSION to drill”.

    This is *one hell of a serious accusation* you are making.

    As you well know, lawyers make a fat living suing people who can not substantiate statements like this made in public places.

    Can you prove this? (and I don't mean blog-comment)

    Nov 21st, 2011 - 09:39 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Forgetit87

    My ire is focused on your entire persona. I'm really done with you: with your partisanship; your selective indignation and its reverse, your adulation towards certain entities; your smarty pants, faux connaisseur prestidigitation; your anti-BR attitudes. I don't want someone like you living on my country. Will you please go back to your own country?

    My links prove what I said: that Chevron's drilling procedure was sloppy; that it lied; that it avoided taking responsibility for its mistakes for almost 2 weeks; that it failed to detect the spilling, having to be made aware of that by Petrobrás; and that it's still underestimating, and drastically so, the amount of oil leaked thus far.

    Ever heard of Schopenhauer's thesis of the primacy of the will over the intellect? According to it, men can't read objective facts on their own merit; instead when they interpret facts they modify them to suit their psychological needs and emotional impulses. This is what you're doing with the links I've provided; you're misrepresenting its content to suit your base world view: the view that idealized companies from “1st rate” countries don't make serious mistakes and that the BR press is honest and that it'd have informed you had Chevron screwed up badly. As said, you lack the ability to think indepently; your worldview is that of a dumb person, so you have to excuse me when I call you that.

    And please, don't try to convince me you know what you're talking about. I don't believe you. The more I know, the more I think you're a serial liar who'll invent different degrees and specializations whenever occasion suits you, not only so you can win a debate, but also because you have this need to show off how important you are, even if for that you need to lie.

    As for Chevron's attempt to reach pre-salt oil, this hypothesis is already being investigated by the federal police. Go google “PF Chevron pré-sal”. Are you really following this case, or are you, as usual, talking out of your ass?

    Nov 22nd, 2011 - 02:11 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Forgetit86

    Chevron, the model company, sélon Geoff.

    “'The best international practices weren't observed and there was manipulation of information. There was no precise on line information to the agency, something that damaged the mission. Chevron didn't treat the ANP [the national oil agency] properly', said [ANP president] Haroldo Lima.

    ”'The company completely violated the concession contract and Brazil's own national legislation', echoed Magda Chambriard, ANP director, on the lack of information [from Chevron] to the regulatory enterprise.(…)

    “Magda Chambriard considered it 'inacceptable' the fact that the company furnished edited images to the agency.

    ”'We had to go to the [spilling] spot to produce the images and to have some idea of the real issue', said she.

    “Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira also criticized Chevron because of the incorrect information it gave.

    ”'The company says it has 16 boats but after we went there, there are only three or four', she says. 'To the Brazilian government it is unacceptable for any company to give any information whatsoever that doesn't fit reality', she added.“

    Example of good model enterprise indeed! Or perhaps the government philistines are misjudging Chevron as they haven't talked to the great, British GeoffWard, who has assured me that Chevron is competent and a ”good model enterprise”?

    Nov 22nd, 2011 - 02:36 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • GeoffWard2

    having read some of the the Globo article and blogs off your google-link, I am finding speculation, a lot of the sequential ambiguity of blog-Chinese-Whispers, and a fair amount of spin.

    I have come across NO evidence of what you claim about drilling into the pre-salt strata, though there is reported a police 'hypothesis' that this is possible.

    The claim is that they are drilling in areas where the water that is 1184 and 1276 metres deep. You and I know, of course, that this means nothing wrt to bore-depth, it is just the known depth of the water at the drilling site, but the bloggers seem to think it is 'evidence' of something.

    One blogger, 'Miro', claims that they are also employing aliens - though I fail to see how this helps win oil.

    None so far has stated firmly that Chevron has done what you declare.
    But I will keep looking.
    We can't have you falling foul of the libel laws, can we; but you could help yourself by finding such a firm statement first.

    Nov 22nd, 2011 - 11:20 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Forgetit87

    “having read some of the the Globo article and blogs off your google-link, I am finding speculation, a lot of the sequential ambiguity of blog-Chinese-Whispers, and a fair amount of spin.”

    How would you even know? You follow the news the way everyone else does, through TV or journals; you have no advanced or deeper knowledge of the situation than I do, so you're no one to say all that has come up against Chevron is all spin and speculation. Apparently you didn't even know that the only confirmed spin thus far has been Chevron's: that it lied about many of the measures it had supposedly taken to fight the leak, for example, that it had disposed of only 3 boats instead of 16. Who are you to say what is true in here or not?

    “I have come across NO evidence of what you claim about drilling into the pre-salt strata, though there is reported a police 'hypothesis' that this is possible.”
    This is still being investigated, dumbass, and the federal police is yet bring evidence to the public.

    More about it here:,pf-investiga-se-chevron-tentou-atingir-pre-sal-ao-perfurar-poco-que-vazou,800178,0.htm

    Funny that you of all people will now say that I am in violation of libel laws because I'm saying Chevron may have attempted to reach pre-salt oil, something that is being investigated by the media, but you yourself are violating no laws when you commence your big rants against government figures, and against Lula, whom, though, unlike Chevron, being under no investigation regarding criminal activities, you have time and again accused of having personally benefited from corruption. You're a rascal, Geoff, and I want you out of my country.

    Nov 24th, 2011 - 08:31 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • GeoffWard2

    I find Brasil full of 'rascals'.

    The thousand - millions -
    who practice corruption,
    who benefit from corruption,
    or who turn a blind eye to corruption,
    are the rascals that should be in prison, but how could a country build sufficient prisons to contain the sinners? . . . especially when there seems to be a concensus that corruption is an 'acceptible' sin in Brasil.

    Forgetit, we live in a country that is rotten to the core of its administration and governance, and you have never once voiced your disgust at the people who criminally benefit from predating on their their fellow man.

    Once more you are getting agitated by a mote without accepting that the beam is a bigger problem.

    Wrt the oil seep:

    1. “ANP experts suspect the employment by Chevron of a probe with the capacity to drill up to 7,600 meters, when the Frade oil appears to less than half that depth is an indication that the company might be cheating on their contract and prospecting of the field below the salt strata.” (loose translation)

    Well, You might make a case if the field was being drilled simply vertically. This is not the case.

    2. The Rio Governor, Sergio Cabral, said the oil-producing states must receive a majority of the royalties as they are affected by the operation. “This accident is a clear demonstration of what it means environmental damage in an oil producing state. It is a proof that they should receive a greater share of the royalties. ”

    You have to agree with the man.
    It's all very well for the Muppet to announce that half the fine, R425million, will go to build a people's park in coastal Rio, but what's really needed is a huge contingency pot, funded from specific oil revenue, from general taxation and from fines of this type.

    “Brazil has no response plan for large leaks”;
    no response plan and no capability - rapid response teams with the correct large-leak equipment able to be deployed at a moment's notice and able to be on site and effective within say 10 hours.

    Nov 24th, 2011 - 11:48 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Forgetit87

    Oh my, so you “word vomit” knowing that I won't read all that. Don't you want to engage me anymore?

    “The 1000s - millions -
    who practice corruption,
    who benefit from it,
    or who turn a blind eye to it,
    are the rascals that should be in prison, but how could a country build sufficient prisons to contain the sinners?”

    A clear provocation. But mind you Geoff, you failed this time. This is b/c I can clearly sense you feel like you need to get back at me. Sorry if I hurt your feelings. Oh wait...apology withdrawn. I actually like that you're offended.

    Some months ago we had a discussion on that matter, hadn't we? You said BR was a country of corrupt people. With the usual vigour I called your attention to this fact. And you, sensing what a mistake you'd just done, began to spin your words so that they meant something else: that you didn't really think BRs were corrupt, that we're instead naive, that it's just that we're too lenient towards the mean government. But now you admit you meant what you'd written that time. You're angry, and this is really impairing your judgment, isn't it?

    I couldn't care less what you think of us. You're NOT BR. And you have no right to complain about us, b/c our problems are just that: ours. We don't make “our problems” someone else's like your fading country does when it invades other countries and kills their citizens. Plus, if things are too hard to bear here, you can always go back to the UK. And considering your attitudes towards this country, its government, its people, its economy, its everything, I really don't know why you haven't done so already. Were you such a loser in your homeland?

    You don't think systematically; you're dogmatic; you don't consider nuances. And apart from that, you lie, even about yourself. Nature produces millions like you everyday. You won't be missed anywhere. So why don't you go back to the UK, knowing that you won't be missed here?

    Nov 25th, 2011 - 09:05 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Forgetit86

    Just an addendum, Geoff: I really wish I would have no need to be harsh to you. But since it has recently become clearer than ever that your obsessed criticism of my country - mine, not yours - is not moved by good intentions, and not even by partisanship like I used to believe earlier, but rather by contempt, feeling of superiority, and ill-will, that is now the attitude you'll be getting from me from now on. I will be reminding you, whenever I feel like, of how ignorant and malignant you've showned yourself to be on your comments.

    Nov 25th, 2011 - 09:13 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Forgetit87

    You know, Geoff, forget it. I don't plan on discussing this with you anymore. In the past I've enjoyed our vigorous debates, even when they were filled with harsh criticism. So I don't really want to burn our bridges in here. Though I'm pretty sure of my positions, and I think yours, on the other hand, are informed either by bias or by genuine ill-will towards this country, I don't intend to debate anymore. What happens from now on depends more on the courts and the police than on the time we waste screaming on this website. Forget what I have said about you as a person in here; when the impatience and the indignation pass, I see that I don't really mean to hurt you.

    Nov 25th, 2011 - 11:00 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • GeoffWard2


    Nov 25th, 2011 - 12:23 pm - Link - Report abuse 0

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