A Brazil appeals court reinstated a criminal prosecution against  Chevron Corp. and 11 employees for an oil spill in November 2011 — more than a year after the case was dismissed following a settlement with the government.

The Brazil court decision came nearly six months months ago but was just announced Wednesday.

Chevron confirmed the ruling Thursday.

The company had been challenging the appellate ruling.

“The case is likely to revive concern over the speed and security of Brazilian legal rulings,” Reuters said.

The same prosecutors who settled with Chevron argued for the criminal case to be reopened, the report said.

Chevron “continues to believe that the complaint is without merit,” the San Ramon, California-based company said in an e-mail to Reuters, adding that it intended to fight the ruling.

Employees of Chevron’s drilling contractor Transocean Ltd   were named in the original indictment. But prosecutors haven’t tried to reinstate criminal charges against them.

The defendants face up to 30 years in prison if convicted, the report said.

The case will  be heard by the 10th Federal Criminal Court in Rio de Janeiro.

The same court tossed out the case in January 2013 after Chevron agreed with prosecutors to spend $150 million to remediate the spill.

About 4,600 barrels of oil from the Frade field northeast of Rio de Janeiro leaked into the ocean, “less than 1 percent of the giant and deadly Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010,” Reuters said.

Brazil’s petroleum regulator said the spill caused no discernible environmental damage, injuries or deaths.

A civil suit against Chevron for $20 billion in damages was dropped in October.

Chevron stopped production in Frade for about a year and a half. Production restarted a year ago.

Chevron owns 52 percent of Frade. Brazil’s state-run Petroleo Brasileiro SA owns 30 percent and Frade Japao, a joint venture between Japanese trading firms  Inpex and Sojitz owns 18 percent, Reuters said.


Leave a Reply