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An oil spill along the northeastern coast of Brazil that baffled authorities and Petrobras has slowed down but damages done by it could reach billions of reals, according to government officials.
“It is an unprecedented situation. This disaster has never happened in Brazil, even in the world. This oil is not noticeable by the satellite,” Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo told media, as quoted by Reuters. “We don’t know how much is spilled,” he added.
The oil has been flowing along the Brazilian coast since September, and the government and Petrobras are firm that it is Venezuelan crude. However, the actual source of the spill has yet to be located.
Last Friday, the federal Brazilian police said they were investigating a Greek-flagged vessel as the potential culprit for the spill.
“The Greek-flagged vessel docked in Venezuela on July 15, stayed for three days, and sailed to Singapore across the Atlantic Ocean, stopping only in South Africa. The spill investigated would have occurred during this journey,” the police said in a statement.
Also last week, the chief executive of Petrobras, Roberto Castello Branco said the spill could turn out to be the worst “environmental attack” in the history of Brazil.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, for his part, this weekend said the worst is yet to come and that “a much bigger catastrophe” is on the way.
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Samples from the crude at the beaches are being analyzed in the U.S., France, and Norway to determine the origin. Petrobras has also examined samples of the oil and says it had narrowed down its origin to three specific fields in Venezuela.
"Compared with oils from our 'oil bank' there is strong similarity with oil produced in the Venezuelan petroleum basin,” the director of the Brazilian University of Bahia’s Geosciences Institute says.
Venezuela has rejected the claims that the oil came from its fields.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.