Brazil judge drops criminal charges against Chevron, Transocean for Frade oil seep

A Brazilian judge dropped criminal charges against Chevron Corp., drilling contractor Transocean Ltd., and 17 of their employees regarding a November 2011 offshore oil seep in the Campos basin involving Frade field although a civil suit against the companies remains pending.

“Chevron Brasil Upstream Frade Ltda. is pleased by the court's decision,” Chevron said. “Chevron Brasil remains committed to its policy of full transparency and close cooperation with the Brazilian authorities. We are committed to resolving any remaining issues surrounding this incident as well as sharing important lessons learned that will benefit future operations in Brazil.”

Transocean also issued a statement, saying it welcomed the news.

“The court recognized, with respect to the Frade event of November 2011, that Transocean's crew members did exactly what they were trained to do, acting responsibly, appropriately and quickly while always maintaining safety as their top priority,” a Transocean spokesman said.

In 2011, Chevron reported well-control operations significantly reduced an oil seep believed to be coming from an appraisal well (OGJ, Nov. 21, 2011, Newsletter).

In 2012, small oil seep was discovered. The 2012 seep was in a separate part of the field from the November 2011 seeps, said a Frade-related page on the company web site.

Chevron Brasil requested Brazil’s authorization for a temporary suspension of production at Frade field while the company did a comprehensive technical study and also a complementary study to better understand the area’s geological features.

Those studies were done by Chevron, which worked in cooperation with its partners and Brazil’s regulators (OGJ Online, Mar. 16, 2012).

Before the seeps, Frade field produced 60,000 b/d. Following an order from the National Petroleum Agency, Chevron suspended water reinjection in four wells in the field.

Chevron has a 51.74% operating interest in Frade field. Partners in the field are Petroleo Brasileiro SA 30%, and Frade Japao Petroleo Ltda., a joint venture of Inpex Corp., Sojitz Corp., and Japan Oil, Gas & Metals Corp. 18.26%.

Chevron started production at Frade field in 2009 (OGJ Online, June 23, 2009).

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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