Brazil seeks $11 billion in suit over oil spill

Story highlights

  • Spill occurred last month off the coast of Rio de Janerio
  • Suit seeks to halt to operations in Brazil by Chevron, Transocean
  • Almost 3,000 barrels of oil were spilled
Brazilian federal prosecutors have filed a suit against Chevron and oil rig operator Transocean Ltd for 20 billion reais, about $11 billion, in response to an oil spill in deep water off the coast of Rio de Janeiro last month.
The civil suit also seeks to halt the operations in Brazil of the oil giant and its rig operator, according to federal prosecutors in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
"Chevron and Transocean were not able to control the damages caused by the spilling of almost 3,000 barrels of oil, which shows a lack of environmental planning and management by the companies," the prosecutors office said in a statement.
The damages would be by far the largest sought so far by Brazilian officials for the November leak. However, experts on the Brazilian legal system are saying the suit is not likely to be won.
The spill was tiny when compared to the Deepwater Horizon disaster last year when some 4 million barrels of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico off the U.S. coast.
But it drew attention to environmental risks as Brazil develops its so-called "subsalt region" in extreme depths off the coast of Rio. It also heightened tensions with Chevron and other foreign companies operating in the country's oil sector.
But up until this latest suit, the damages sought were just a fraction of Chevron's Brazilian revenues. Still, the oily sheen never reached Rio's beaches and it was not clear what damages the federal prosecutors were referring to with the $11 billon suit.