April 7, 2013 / 8:31 PM / in 5 years

Brazil oil leak cleaning efforts wrapping up-official

BRASILIA, April 7 (Reuters) - Workers on Sunday nearly finished cleaning up a handful of beaches drenched by marine fuel after a small spill off the coast of the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo, port authorities said.

The leak at the Almirante Barroso marine terminal in the port of Sao Sebastiao was controlled on Friday, according to the terminal operator Transpetro, the transportation arm of state-run oil giant Petrobras.

Alexandre Motta de Sousa, the harbor master of the port of Sao Sebastiao, said cleanup efforts were wrapping up.

“We were lucky because the climate helped contain the spread of the leak,” he said. “It was a small spill, but we still don’t have the calculations for the exact amount of fuel leaked.”

A spate of oil spills off the shores of Brazil over the last two years has raised safety concerns about the development of some of the world’s largest petroleum reserves.

A leak in Chevron’s offshore Frade field in 2011 led the company to shut down production and prompted criminal charges against the No. 2 American oil company, its drilling contractor Transocean and 17 of their employees. The criminal charges were later dropped, but a civil a case that seeks about $20 billion in damages continues.

Chevron and Transocean said they did nothing wrong and are fighting the case. Brazil’s oil regulator, ANP, said the Frade field spill caused no discernable environmental damage.

Transpetro said it was investigating the cause of the leak at its terminal. Marine fuel is lighter than fuel oil and can evaporate more quickly than crude oil.

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