Greenpeace Protest Over Oil Spill

Greenpeace activists on Friday spilled black ink on the door of Chevron’s Rio office to protest the oil spill at an offshore well operated by the US energy giant off the Brazilian coast.

“Chevron: your trash, our problem,” read one of the placards waved by one the militants of the environmental watchdog outside the Chevron office in central Rio.

The activists said they wanted more clarity on the cause of the spill that was detected 10 days earlier at the Frade field located some 370 kilometers (230 miles) northeast of Rio de Janeiro.

They also wanted more details on Chevron plans to control the spill and reduce its impact on the biodiversity of the Rio state coast, a migration route for dolphins and various species of whales.

Brazil’s national oil agency (ANP) initially estimated the spill at 330 barrels of oil daily.

But Friday, Rio state’s Environment Secretary Carlos Minc said the “accident must be bigger than what is being announced.”

“We are going to demand compensation for (the damage done) to birds, fish, dolphins and fishermen,” he told Globo television. “The company must be punished in an exemplary manner.”

According to Greenpeace, “satellite pictures obtained by NASA show a spill 10 times bigger” than the 330 barrels a day calculated by ANP and “the extension of the slick seen from the air point to 3,700 barrels a day.”

And another environmental group, SkyTruth, said on its website that the most recent image it was able to get on November 12 “shows an apparent oil slick originating from the drilling location and extending over 2,379 square kilometers… At 1 micron thickness, that’s a volume of 628,000 gallons (14,954 barrels) of oil.

“Assuming the spill began midday on November 8 (24 hours before we first observe it on satellite imagery), we estimate a spill rate of at least 157,000 gallons (3,738 barrels) per day. That’s more than 10 times larger than Chevron’s estimate of 330 barrels per day,” it added.

On Thursday, Chevron said cementing operations were underway “as part of its well plugging activities on an appraisal well located in the vicinity of the Frade field offshore Brazil.”

It said “that there has never been any oil flow from the wellhead and current monitoring indicates oil from nearby seep lines on the ocean floor have reduced to infrequent droplets.”

It said it was continuing “to monitor the oil sheen which has substantially dissipated.”

“Greenpeace wants transparency from Chevron and the government agencies regarding this accident. The information we have so far is contradictory,” said Greenpeace’s Leandra Goncalves in a statement.

“The company is playing down the problem. But the oil slick could exceed 160 square kilometers (61.7 square miles).”

Chevron, which owns the Texaco brand in Brazil, has a concession to operate three wells in the Frade field.