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Chevron Oil Spill Revives Effort for Brazil Congressional Probe

A second oil spill off the Brazilian coast in a field operated by Chevron Corp. last week has revived lawmakers’ efforts to open a congressional probe of the company, lower house Deputy Aluizio dos Santos said.

Chevron, the second-biggest U.S. oil company by market value, suspended production in Brazil last week after identifying a new leak in the Frade field.

“I’m convinced we are talking about the same leak, they never managed to stop it,” said dos Santos, a member of the Green Party, in a telephone interview from Rio de Janeiro. “The timing is unique, Congress won’t avoid the responsibility of finding out what happened.” The Green Party is not a member of the government’s ruling coalition.

“We are confident that we have at all times acted diligently and appropriately, and in accordance with the best practices in the oil industry,” Kurt Glaubitz, a spokesman for Chevron, said in an e-mailed statement. “The company will conduct a comprehensive technical study and prepare a complementary study to better understand the geological features of the area, working with partners.”

In November, an estimated 3,000 barrels spilled at Frade, at a time when Brazil is increasing scrutiny of deepwater drilling following the 2010 Macondo spill in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Chevron suspended drilling new wells in Brazil at that time.

Dos Santos, who started collecting signatures to institute a probe in November, said more legislators are willing to support the investigation now. According to law, 171 signatures are needed to start the so-called CPI in the lower house.

George Buck, head of Chevron’s Brazil operations, appeared at a congressional hearing last November. “Sincere apologies to the Brazilian people and the Brazilian government,” he said at the hearing.

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