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Brazil sues Chevron and Transocean over Rio de Janeiro oil spill

Prosecutors seek billions, want to suspend the companies from operating in the country

Public prosecutors in Brazil aren’t afraid to get a little dirty to fight Big Oil. They are suing Chevron Corp., the No. 2 U.S. oil company and Transocean Ltd., an offshore oil rig operator, which they claim caused a November oil spill outside Rio de Janeiro. They are asking for 20 billion reais, or $10.6 billion.

Some experts are saying that this suit is more of a political than a legal move, Thomson Reuters reports. Brazil’s Populist government may be feeling the pressure of its public, which was outraged at Chevron, even though of the 2,400 barrels of oil leaked into Brazil’s coastal waters, only half a barrel now remains.

Prosecutors said in a statement that, in addition to the money, they are also seeking to bar the companies from operating in Brazil. "During investigations the prosecutors found that Chevron and Transocean were not capable of controlling the damages caused by the leakage," they wrote. "This is evidence of a lack of planning and environmental management by the companies."

This suit is only adding to the legal woes of both Chevron and Transocean. Transocean was the rig operator in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill that dumped four-billion barrel into the ocean, and Chevron has been fending off allegations from Ecuador that it has been damaging the Amazon rainforest for the past 18 years.

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