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Brazil says Chevron oil leakage much larger than first estimated

RIO DE JANEIRO -- An investigation by regulators found that Chevron Corp. could have prevented an offshore oil leak last year and that the spill was larger than previously estimated, the head of Brazil's National Petroleum Agency said Thursday.

Magda Chambriard, who runs the agency known as ANP, said at a news conference that about 155,000 gallons seeped into the ocean from cracks in the seabed floor near a Chevron well in the Frade field. Previous estimates put the leak at about 110,000 gallons, which a Chevron statement said is the figure it sticks by.

The ANP's full report will be released Friday. It will show “the accident could have been avoided if Chevron had conducted its operations while fully adhering to the regulations of the ANP and industrywide best practices, as well as its own procedure manual,” Chambriard said.

She added that the agency would fine Chevron about the maximum allowed under Brazilian law, upward of US$25 million. Chevron and driller Transocean Ltd. are facing an US$11 billion lawsuit that a federal prosecutor filed earlier this year.

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