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Brazil: Chevron head threatened with 30 years jail over spill

Date: 23 Mar 2012

Photo of oil platform in Nigeria

Criminal charges are being brought against 17 employees of Chevron and Transocean for an oil spill in Rio de Janeiro. Prosecutors said that George Buck, the head of Chevron's operations in Brazil, should go to prison for 31 years for his part in creating a major incident of pollution.

Both companies vigorously contest the charges. Chevron said that the offshore spill, which at 3,000 barrels was small compared to historical standards, had injured nobody and had produced no evidence to date of damage to marine life.

The process is seen by some commentators as heavily influenced by the political situation. The charges, even if they do not actually result in prison terms for the individuals named, will make operations difficult for Chevron and Transocean, at a point where huge offshore discoveries of oil has made Brazil one of the most promising oil development areas.

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