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Chevron’s Brazil Leak Is Bigger Than Estimated, ANP Says

The amount of oil that has leaked into the ocean from a sea-floor fissure near a Chevron Corp. well in Brazil may be four times as large as previously estimated, the country’s oil regulator said.

As much as 2,640 barrels have gushed into the sea during an eight-day period, and oil continues to leak, the agency, known as the ANP, said in an e-mailed statement today.

Chevron, based in San Ramon, California, said Nov. 15 that the oil slick caused by the spill was as much as 650 barrels. At that time, the company said flows from the well appeared to have ceased.

Chevron has “substantially reduced” oil leaking from a fissure after it began plugging an exploration well Nov. 15th at the Frade offshore project, ANP said. The agency is investigating the causes of the spill and is auditing safety conditions at the project’s platform.

Brazil may tighten environmental regulations as the country plans to double oil output over the next decade, tapping fields in the so-called pre-salt region of the Atlantic Ocean, Adriano Pires, head of the Brazilian Center for Infrastructure, said today in a telephone interview from Rio de Janeiro.

“This could slow the expansion process if the government implements more strict environmental regulations,” Pires said. “This tells Brazilian society that the story about transforming the pre-salt region isn’t that simple.”

Chevron didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail and phone call today seeking comment.

Production hasn’t been halted at Frade, located in deep waters of the Campos Basin, according to Chevron. Oil was leaking from fissures on the ocean floor near a well the company was drilling and then plugged.

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