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Brazil detects new oil leak near Chevron spill

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 15, 2012 4:04 PM
Brazil detects new oil leak near Chevron spill

By Sabrina Lorenzi

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil's state oil regulator said on Thursday crude oil was leaking from the ocean floor in the same area as a November spill that resulted from drilling operations by Chevron.

The ANP, as the regulator is known, did not give any indication as to the size of the leak. However, it stressed that the oil did not appear to be coming from the Chevron well that was sealed following the November leak, which spilled an estimated 2,400 to 3,000 barrels into the ocean.

The new leak is also located in the so-called Frade field off the northeastern coast of Rio de Janeiro. The 80,000 barrel-a-day field is operated by Chevron in partnership with Brazilian state oil company Petrobras and Frade Japan, which is controlled by Japan's Inpex.

Chevron shares, which were trading down on the day at around $110.20 before the news of the new Brazil leak, slid further. They soon recovered slightly to $109.85 in late afternoon trading.

Chevron and rig operator Transocean are being sued for more than $11 billion by Brazilian prosecutors for the November leak, which amounted to less than 0.1 percent of the size of BP's Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Chevron also faces fines of up to $121 million and has had its drilling license suspended in Brazil, where is has spent over $2 billion developing the largest foreign-run oil field. The ANP said on Tuesday that Chevron could win back its drilling rights "within months" if can convince Brazilian officials it understands exactly what caused the leak.

Chevron executives in Brazil were scheduled to hold a news conference later on Thursday.

(Additional reporting by Reese Ewing; Writing by Peter Murphy and Todd Benson; Editing by Alden Bentley)