Brazil seeking criminal charges in November oil spill

More than a month after the initial leak at an offshore oil rig in the Frade oil field, the Brazilian police have decided to press criminal charges against employees at the oil rig's owner Chevron Corp. and operator Transocean Ltd., according to The Wall Street Journal.

The police could indict as many as 17 employees from the two companies involved in the early November spill, which leaked around 2,400 barrels of oil into the Atlantic Ocean northeast of Rio de Janeiro.

"The companies acted in a frivolous, irresponsible manner in the incident," said Federal Police investigator Fábio Scliar, according to the Journal.

Bloomberg notes that Chevron has already been fined 50 million reais, around $26.9 million, while federal prosecutors have filed a civil lawsuit against the company that could amount to $11 billion in damages.

Reuters reports that the move could prove costly for Brazil, which has sought nearly $600 billion to develop its offshore oil drilling industry in the hopes of becoming a major global producer of the energy source. These interests could lead the government to intercede on the companies behalf.

Information on the development of Brazil's oil and gas resources can be found at PennEnergy's Research area.

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