Brazil oil workers sue Chevron over spill

Wed Mar 28, 2012 12:30pm EDT
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By Jeb Blount

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil's largest oil workers union filed a lawsuit against U.S. oil company Chevron and drilling firm Transocean that seeks to cancel their rights to operate in the country as the result of an offshore oil spill last November.

The case, brought by the FUP oil workers federation in Brazilian federal court, raises the legal and political stakes for Chevron CVX.N and Transocean RIGN.VX which are already fighting criminal and civil cases related to the spill.

FUP, which has long opposed foreign involvement in Brazilian oil development, said Chevron and Transocean "offended the Brazilian people" with "predatory and environmentally unsound practices.

FUP wants the court to force Chevron to give up a field that has cost about $2 billion in investment and was producing up to 80,000 barrels a day of oil. It also seeks unspecified financial damages for the Brazilian people.

In addition to the Sedco 706 drill platform working for Chevron, Transocean has nine other billion-dollar-plus rigs working in Brazil. Each earns hundreds of thousands of dollars a day in lease fees.

"Chevron lied to the Brazilian state," Joao Antonio Moraes, FUP's legal coordinator, told Reuters.

"We're seeking the cancellation of their concession in the field where their operations have shown to be predatory and environmentally unsound."

Kurt Glaubitz, Chevron's spokesman in Rio De Janeiro, and Transocean spokesman Guy Cantwell in Houston had no immediate comment on the suit. Both have said the previous charges against the companies and their employees are without merit.   Continued...

Chevron's Director of Corporate Affairs in Brazil, Rafael Jaen Williamson, wipes his face as he speaks about the oil leak that seeped off the coast of Rio de Janeiro into the waters of the Campos Basin, caused by a well drilled by Chevron at Frade, during a meeting with the environmental commission of the federal senate in Brasilia March 22, 2012. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino