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Brazilian court drops Chevron oil spill criminal charges

22 February 2013

According to the AP news agency, a Brazilian federal court has dismissed criminal charges filed last year against Chevron, Transocean and several of their executives in connection with a 2011 oil spill off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. The two companies and 17 of their executives had been charged with "crimes against the environment".

The court sent the charges back to prosecutors, who have five days to appeal his ruling, a court official said on February 21.

Chevron said in a statement that it was pleased by the court's decision and that it remained "committed to its policy of full transparency and close cooperation with Brazilian authorities."

Transocean said it welcomed the ruling, which it said showed that "Transocean's crew members did exactly what they were trained to do, acting responsibly, appropriately and quickly while always maintaining safety as their top priority."

The companies still face two civil lawsuits seeking $20 billion in damages for the spill, in which about 155,000 gallons of crude oil leaked from the seabed near a Chevron well off the coast in November 2011.

A spokesman at the federal prosecutor's office said the companies had offered about $160 million, far less than the amount being sought by the office.

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