Your mess, our loss

Bloomberg Business Week May 14, 2012

The simplicity of this opening spread and the way it conveys the dual subjects of the article: oil and Brazil, is striking.

The article explains how an oil spill in November 2011, from a Chevron well named Frade, 230 miles east of Rio de Janiero, led the Brazilian government to charge several Chevron employees with alleged “crimes against the environment.” The 17 employees have had their passports confiscated and face 20 to 30 years in prison, and Chevron are defending a $22 billion law suit.

The spill at Frade was relatively small—just 2,400 barrels, according to Chevron—was cleaned up in just 4 days and resulted in no contaminated fisheries, no dead turtles and no beachline oil slick. In comparison, the Deepwater Horizon explosion resulted in 11 deaths and gushed over 4.9 million barrels into the the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010.

What’s at issue, however, is much larger than an oil spill. The real issue is the revenues from Brazil’s vast potential of recently discover oil, estimated at 50–100 billion barrels. And how do they get it out of the ground while keeping as much of the profits as possible. To contrast these numbers Kuwait’s proven oil reserves are 101 billion barrels.

We are likely to hear more about this.

The subject of this blog—your mess, our loss—is taken from a slogan painted on the door of Chevron’s Rio office by Brazilian Greenpeace activists.

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