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Chevron to clean up spill

November 21, 2011|Reuters

RIO DE JANEIRO — California oil giant Chevron Corp. promised to fully clean up a spill off Brazil's coast, taking responsibility for an accident that has become a major test for one of the world's fastest-growing oil frontiers.

The leak from the undersea well, owned in partnership with Brazil's state-controlled Petrobras and a Japanese consortium, has been plugged, said George Buck, the chief executive of Chevron's local subsidiary. The residual oil flow from undersea rock is now "more than 10 barrels" but "less than hundreds of barrels" per day, he said.

"Chevron takes full responsibility for this incident," Buck said. "We will share the lessons learned here in the hope that this sort of incident won't happen again in Brazil or anywhere else in the world."

The spill, one of the largest to hit Brazil's growing offshore oil industry, has raised questions about its safety and ability to respond to accidents.

Oil companies in Brazil are testing the limits of drilling as they seek oil at depths as much as 4.4 miles below the ocean surface, putting equipment and people under strains often compared with those for space flight.

The stakes are large.

Brazilian oil companies expect to produce about 7 million barrels of oil per day by 2020, most of it offshore near Rio de Janeiro. Such an amount would make Brazil the third-largest oil producer after Russia and Saudi Arabia.

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