New Leak, Old Field: Chevron Stops Brazil Production After Oil Slick Found

A new leak in the same offshore oil field in Brazil that spilled about 3,000 barrels (or 110,000 gallons) last November has caused Chevron to shut down operations.

Reuters reports Rafael Jaen Williamson, Chevron's director of corporate affairs in Brazil, said the oil giant halted production to conduct a study on its "reservoir management plans" in response to the "small new seep" of unknown size found in the Frade field. 

"The suspension of production is designed to let us analyze scientifically what caused this," he said. 

A spokeswoman with ANP, an organization that acts as Brazil’s National Petroleum Agency, told the Associated Press the new leak seems to be coming from the sea floor and was detected by a new oil slick found on the water's surface.

“The oil is not coming from the well; it’s been sealed. It seems to be coming from fissures on the ocean floor near the well,” she said, on condition of anonymity. 

Since the November spill, Chevron has been banned from any new drilling projects and was fined $121 million, but was allowed to continue production operations. The Frade field was producing at least 61,500 barrels a day prior to the shutdown. 

Prosecutors have also announced an $11 billion lawsuit over the November spill. In a Mar. 12 interview with Reuters, federal prosecutor Eduardo Santos de Oliveira commented the amount was not based on determined damages, but as a message in answer to Chevron's oil practices. 

"Energy companies operating here need to know that reckless behavior will cost them," he said.