A federal court in Brazil on Wednesday ordered Chevron and drilling company Transocean [corporate websites] to suspend all oil drilling in Brazil within 30 days in the wake of two oil spills off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. A judge for Brazil's Regional Federal Court of the Second Region [official website, in Portuguese] ruled [AP report] that each company must pay 500 million reals, or 244 million dollars, for every day that they do not comply with the suspension. In November, a Chevron appraisal well leaked 155,000 gallons of oil. In March, oil started leaking again from the well and Chevron suspended production in that oil field. In its ruling on Wednesday, the court rationalized that two oil spills in the span of four months demonstrated that Chevron and Transocean cannot operate the wells safely. Chevron plans to appeal the ruling, saying that it complied with all applicable laws and industry standards.
Chevron continues to face legal battles associated with the oil spill last November. In April, a Brazilian prosecutor filed an $11 billion lawsuit against Chevron [JURIST report] after the company reported a new leak [press release] in the Frade oil field. hevron is also currently appealing an $18 billion fine [JURIST report] for pollution in the Amazon jungle. The judgment against Chevron was upheld in January by a three-judge panel of the Provincial Court of Justice of Sucumbios in Lago Agrio, Ecuador. The $18 billion fine, one of the largest in the history of environmental contamination suits, was originally set at $8.6 billion [JURIST report] but was more than doubled for Chevron's refusal to pay "moral reparations" to the Ecuadorian government, as required by the original ruling. The Amazon Defense Coalition [advocacy website], plaintiffs in the suit, have responded that the first judgment was a reaffirmation of how Chevron's greed and criminal misconduct in dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into the river has led to death and disease. Damages were initially awarded in February by the Provincial Court of Justice of Sucumbios which found that Texaco, which was acquired by Chevron in 2001, polluted large areas of the country's rain forest.