May 27, 2020

Oil spill in the ocean raises tension between Brazil and Venezuela

The harsh relations between Brazil and Venezuela have been further strained by the gigantic oil drainage that has reached 132 Brazilian beaches, a spill that for President Jair Bolsonaro has foreign origin and is the result of a "criminal" action.

"Surely there was a criminal oil spill in the coastal region. I am almost certain. We do not have a crystal ball to quickly discover who is responsible for the criminal act, but we take the measures," Bolsonaro said Thursday at a business forum. with investors in Sao Paulo.

The Brazilian president said Wednesday, in dialogue with the press in Brasilia, to specify the country of origin of the oil, although preliminary studies by state oil company Petrobras suggest that it could come from Venezuela.

The oil began to appear on beaches of more than sixty municipalities in the northeast coast and has caused the death of sea turtles and birds and endangers other species such as the manatee.

"It is a reserved matter," Bolsonaro said the day after being questioned by the press if the foreign nation that was on the radar of the Brazilian authorities was Venezuela.

According to the ruler, if it were an accident of an oil tanker, the oil would still be spilling and the vessel would ask for help or be detected by satellites, but, in his opinion, it was a material "thrown criminally" in Brazilian maritime waters.

However, despite Bolsonaro's refusal to confirm the evidence that it is Venezuelan oil, Environment Minister Ricardo Salles said in a congressional commission that "that oil, most likely from Venezuela, is oil that came from a foreign ship, sailing next to the Brazilian coast. "

A day after Salles' hypothesis and almost at the same time that Venezuela repudiated the accusation, another member of the Bolsonaro cabinet, the Minister of Mines and Energy, Bento Albuquerque, tried to calm down the mood today.

"At no time was it said that (the spill) was from the PDVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela SA) or that it was of that origin. What was said is that the oil found has similar characteristics to that extracted in some Venezuelan wells, but the origin it was probably from some ship offshore carrying that kind of oil, "he said.

Albuquerque, which participated in an oil auction in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday, added: "Only a fairly complex investigation can tell us the origin of the spill. The investigation was initiated on September 2 and several agencies participate in it."

"It is difficult to predict how long that investigation will be concluded because it is quite complex and I do not agree that the Government took time to take action," he added.

For the minister, "the investigation began on September 2 and all available resources were mobilized to clean up that area and mitigate the spread of the spill to other regions."

"It is a totally atypical situation. Stains were found from the north of Maranhao to Sergipe and that is atypical because there are two sea currents in the region, and one goes to the northwest and another to the south, so the complexity of the investigation," he concluded .

For its part in Caracas, PDVSA, through a statement on Twitter of its president and also the Minister of Petroleum of that country, Manuel Quevedo, rejected on Thursday what he considered as "unfounded accusations" of Brazil.

Quevedo also considered that the accusations seek to "deepen the coercive unilateral aggressions against the Venezuelan people."

In a statement, PDVSA said that in its fields "there is no evidence of oil spill (…) that could have caused damage to the marine ecosystem of the neighboring country" and noted that it has not received reports from customers or subsidiaries "on a possible breakdown or spillage near the Brazilian coast. "

. (tagsToTranslate) Spill (t) oil (t) tension (t) Brazil (t) Venezuela

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