Aerial Photo and Video from the Campos Basin Oil Spill, Brazil

Photo from an overflight by a Navy helicopter on 24 Nov 2011, which included ANP technicians. Included in an ANP news release

While we’re still waiting on clear satellite imagery from the area (and radar imagery, coming next week), the aerial photograph above was taken during an overflight on the morning of November 18 off the Campos Basin along the coast of Brazil. According to Chevron and Brazilian authorities, the well is now sealed.

BBC News also has a short video clip showing aerial footage of the spill and the vessels in the area trying to clean up the mess. Brazil’s oil agency, ANP, said underwater images showed Chevron’s effort to permanently seal the well with cement appeared to have been successful, although there appeared to be a residual flow of oil from the seabed.

18 replies
  1. Mia says:

    It seems Chevron has tried to drill deeper than it was authorized to do so, and it has reached the pre salt layer, which was NOT on their contract clauses.

    According to the investigations of the Brazilian Federal Police, one of the evidences was that the probe used by Chevron has the capacity to drill up to 7.6 thousand metres deep, more than double of what it was authorized by contract, besides the fact that the company has been caught using illegal immigrants to cheat on contract obligations.

    As of now, BFP investigates whether Chevron has drilled up to 500 metres beyond what was under contract..

    More here:

    As for the (brazilian) media, nothing is happening, the spill has been fixed, and it is business as usual..aka, beer, soccer and beach to the average brazilian…

    keep up the awesome work.

  2. John Amos says:

    Luiz – excellent link – thank you! These images did not appear in our search of the European Space Agency archive, possibly because they were downloaded and processed at the Brazilian receiving station in Cuiaba.

  3. John Amos says:

    Thank you Mia – it would be interesting if Chevron drilled deeper than they were permitted, but that alone wouldn't explain why the well failed. There must be more to this story, so please let us know when you learn anything new!

  4. Marcos says:

    Unfortunately, as today newspaper says, oil is still leaking, as you can read on here. The article is in Portuguese, but you can easily translate it using an online tool, like Google Translate.

  5. John Amos says:

    Marcos – we think there may be leaking from the seafloor for some time; it will take a while for it to all come out. It would be helpful to know exactly what went wrong with the well.

  6. John Amos says:

    I don't know if there is such a thing as the "average Brazilian" but I have been pleased to see how much media attention this oil spill is getting in Brazil, and how many people there are paying attention now to offshore drilling. This is an opportunity for the country to take a good look at the management and oversight of offshore drilling and oil spill response, and make some improvements. And an opportunity to get serious about energy efficiency, energy conservation and alternatives to fossil fuels.

  7. Mia says:

    Hi John.

    Yeah, I am digging for info, however it is pretty hard as the government officials are very careful releasing any news. I have just watched the press conference given by ANP (National Petroleum Agency), the Energy Ministry and the Environment Ministry, and at first they seemed very concerned, but everything was sort of "I'm sorry I have other things to do, I'll leave you with them as your questions will be answered"…And I am talking about the Environment and Energy Ministries..
    So far what I know is that Chevron has gotten the 1st fine, the highest our legislation allows, almost 28 million dollars, and that they've edited the spill footage but ANP found out.

    They (ANP) went to the rig in Campos to seize two dvds worth of images, which is another fine, plus fines for you name it, the total will only be summed up after a meeting next wednesday at ANP headquarters. But the images on tv are always the same ones, that in my opinion feels sanitized. You are right, there is something more to it.

    As for clean energy, well I am all for it. There is a nice campaign just starting here against the monster called Belo Monte dam, which is, as we speak, being built in the Amazon forest. Lots of bloggers, myself included, are joining in, feel free to watch the video, it's in english too.

    As for the "average brazilian", well I meant those who just want their light switches to work and don't care how it gets there..
    Take care!
    Mia: )

  8. Unknown says:

    Hi John,

    Thanks for suggesting a much smaller URL. SkyTruth has shown that censorship in not imposed on radical points-of-view. Paulo Schueller's opinion on the Chevron issue is rather strong, nevertheless he has raised some important issues….which were not posted nor published by the mainstream media in Brazil.
    posted by Armando Rozário – Cabo Frio, Brazil – November 24, 2011

  9. Unknown says:

    I think Chevron's CEO inferred that his company acted responsibly to the spill, but we all think that he is a good 'pretender', Check Reuter's latest report, which was posted a few hours ago: CHEVRON SAYS ACTED RESPONSIBLY TO BRAZIL SPILL (sic.) –
    Like · · about an hour ago ·

    Armando Rozario Updated report, issued one hour later –
    UPDATE 1-Chevron says acted responsibly on Brazil spill
    ‎* Local CEO Buck says Chevron acted quickly, safely* Chevron brought spill unde…See More
    about an hour ago · Like ·
    ANP says suspends Chevron drilling rights in Brazil
    SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil's National Oil Regulator (ANP) said on Wednesday th…See More

  10. Unknown says:

    Hi John,

    You may be interested in an article which was published today in Folha de S.Paulo. Professor Marcelo Gleiser's topic is "THE LEAK" Nov. 27 – 27/11/2011
    The leak
    "Every operation within the limits of knowledge involves huge risks. The pre-salt is not an exception to this fact," notes Marcelo Gleiser, professor of theoretical physics at Dartmouth College in Hanover (USA), in an article published in the Folha de S . Paul, 11/27/2011.

    According to him, "while other economies struggling to move beyond the use of fossil fuels, Brazil, with its vast hydroelectric network and potential solar and wind, seems to want to go back."

    Here is the article.

    All operating within the limits of knowledge involves huge risks. The pre-salt will be no different

    It was the first serious disaster in recent history of oil exploration off the coast of Rio arrived here this week and was horrified by the headlines about the oil spill in the Frade field, operated by Chevron well in the Campos Basin, 370 kilometers from the continent.

    The leak occurs at a depth of 1.2 km and, until Wednesday, was released, according to the company, around 2,500 barrels after 15 days. There are disparities between what the ANP (National Petroleum Agency), observers and NGO SkyTruth Chevron spokesmen are saying.

    According to SkyTruth, the leak was about 15 million barrels, much higher than stated by the company. While Chevron says it has 18 ships engaged in rotation for the cleaning of the region, the Federal Police said there was only one. To make matters worse, the company contracted to drill the well, Transocean, is the same that operated the Deepwater Horizon, responsible for the largest spill in U.S. history, the Gulf of Mexico last year.

    Consequently, the ANP suspended the activities of Chevron in Brazil and the company denied the possibility of drilling a new well to explore the pre-salt layer. With an estimated reserve of 50 million barrels, the pre-salt is one of the greatest discoveries of the last 30 years. It is no coincidence that when the flight to Rio today, I notice that a reasonable fraction of the passengers work for the oil industry and its subsidiaries.

    With increasing world population and, consequently, the consumption of petroleum and its products, it becomes increasingly difficult to find easily exploitable reserves. But the pre-salt really beats all records. With depth of 6 to 7 kilometers of the surface and passing through a salt layer with thickness varying from 200 meters to 2 kilometers, the extraction will be extremely difficult, challenging current technology.

    Since I heard about the pre-salt the first time I've had nightmares about the real possibility of ecological disaster of catastrophic proportions, which could compromise the coast of Brazil from Espirito Santo to Santa Catarina.

    We hear a lot about the excitement of discovery and how it is feasible to extract oil under these complicated conditions, but very little about measures taken if leaks occur, which seems inevitable. All operating within the limits of knowledge involves huge risks. The pre-salt will be no exception to this fact.

    While other economies struggling to move beyond the use of fossil fuels, Brazil, with its vast hydroelectric network and potential solar and wind, seems to want to go back. Of course everyone wants the royalties that come from oil exploration, always with the view of the short-term profit. But such accidents in the Frade field, show the dangers of unbridled exploitation and without strict measures of control.

    The pre-salt might be the goose that lays golden eggs in Brazil. Remember that, in Aesop's fable, the owner of the chicken, greedy, impatient, turns out to kill her to get the eggs that she believed she had in her womb. And with no end.

    posted by Armando Rozário – petroamerica/macanese – November 27, 2011 – GOOGLE translation

  11. Unknown says:

    Hi John,

    The president of Chevron in Latin America presented some very strange data on the oil spill in the Campos Basin. READ THIS REPORT: Chevron Says Rio Oil Leak Controlled: Daily
    November 25, 2011 | Filed underDaily Update | Posted by Ben Tavener

    By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter

    RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The president of Chevron for Africa and Latin America, Ali Moshiri, said on Thursday that the Frade oil field leak was under control and that the slick some 75 miles (120km) from the Rio coastline has now practically disappeared.
    Ali Moshiri, Chevron's President for Africa and Latin America, after meeting Brazil's Energy Minister Edison Lobão

    Chevron's Ali Moshiri highlighted the region’s “complex geology” and blamed Mother Nature for his company's troubles, photo by Valter Campanato/ABr

    He said the U.S. oil giant is now concentrating on sealing the well at the center of the incident, which would now be abandoned, and that the any oil floating in the ocean amounted to one-tenth of a barrel (about four gallons or 16 liters).

    Moshiri – who was in talks with Brazil’s Energy Minister, Edison Lobão – said that the company’s response had been “first-class” and that Chevron’s Brazilian subsidiary has one of the best safety records.

    He also said that cause of the spill, which first came to light on November 8th, was as yet unknown and that investigations would continue, denying any issue of control within the company.

    On Wednesday, the ANP – Brazil’s National Petroleum Agency – decided to suspend all drilling in the Frade oil field – which is completely operated by Chevron some 230 miles (370km) off the Rio de Janeiro state coastline.

    The ANP has also rejected Chevron’s request to drill a new well to reach the pre-salt layer, saying that “pre-salt drilling poses risks of a similar nature to that at the affected well, only larger and deeper”.

    Read more (in Portuguese).

    * The Rio Times Daily Update is a new feature we are offering to help keep you up-to-date with major news as it happens.

    posted by Armando Rozário – Cabo Frio, Brazil – November 26, 2011

  12. Unknown says:

    Hi John,

    Chevron may be held responsible for polluting the rivers which flow directly onto the Guanabara Bay of Rio de Janeiro. Lest we forget ECO 2012 will be held in Rio next year. read O GLOBO's report which was posted today, the 30th. of November 2011:

    Issue of the day 29/11/2011

    29/11/2011 21h22 – 21h35 Updated 29/11/2011
    Oil collected in the waters of the Campos Basin threatens to contaminate rivers
    Commission of the Chamber of Deputies discovered irregularities in the new company that received the waste spill from Chevron.

    A committee of the Chamber of Deputies discovered irregularities in the new company that received the waste spill from Chevron for over 20 days, in the Campos Basin. The Federal Police found stains of oil channels that may constitute a risk of contamination to rivers.

    The Contecom, company of Duque de Caxias, in the Lowlands, who received the oil that leaked from one of Chevron's oil wells, the license was expired for over a year. Information is the external committee of the House of Representatives investigating the handling of the leak. On Tuesday (29), the parliamentarians were Contecom and filmed in the reservoirs filled to capacity. The company received about 80,000 liters of waste from the Campos Basin.

    The Federal Police was also on site. According to agents, there is waste oil into channels within the company. The channels carry water to the drains, which in turn are in contact with the network that flows into rivers.

    According to the officer investigating the case, the pools where they are stored waste had overwhelmed the company, so the oil reached the channels. Now, the Federal Police also want to know if the Contecom worked above the capacity limit.

    "If there is contamination, expert evidence can only say that. The company serves all the determinations of INEA, "said Bruno Rodriguez, representative of Contecom.

    That was not the only irregularity found in the company. An administrative assistant was taken to the headquarters of the Federal Police to provide information. She had signed documents in place of the technical.

    Chevron released images taken on Monday (28) in the Frade Field. There are still leaks, but the company claims that they are smaller and that the causes of the accident remain under investigation.

    In a hearing on the Environmental Committee of the Senate on the oil spill, the president of IBAMA said that after two days, the institute will complete the analysis of compliance or not, by the company's emergency plan, as licensed . If you have not met, the company will be assessed again in the limit of $ 10 million.

    The State Institute for the Environment said the Condecom is in the process of license renewal and able to operate. Technical Institute were second in the company and said they had found irregularities.

    re-posted by Armando Rozário – Cabo Frio, Brazil – November 30, 2011

  13. Unknown says:

    Hi John,

    Another excellent article, written by a Brazilian scientist Marcelo Gleiser. I modestly point out that I beg to differ on two points. Petrobras holds less than 50% of its shares and not 51%. The term "pre-sal" (pre-salt) is only used in Brazil. The correct term is sub-salt, the massive oil deposits are beneath the salt strata.


    Chevron's Brazilian Oil Debacle: To Drill Or Not To Drill

    Categories: Science and Society

    01:34 pm

    November 30, 2011

    by Marcelo Gleiser

    After a few days in Rio de Janeiro, my hometown, I was horrified to see the local headlines saturated with news that Chevron's Frade project, located 230 miles off the northeastern coast of Rio in 3,800 feet of water, had leaked for over 15 days. While Chevron says the leak, which started on November 7, is now contained and that the total amount of the spill was under 2,400 barrels, there have been accusations from Brazilian environmental and regulatory agencies that the company is only telling part of the story. A week ago, the main local newspaper, O Globo, ran this headline: "Chevron lies and may be forbidden from operating in the country." A Brazilian regulator put its own estimate on the spill at as much as 3,000 barrels and, on November 23, banned the company from further drilling, as well as fining Chevron $28 million.

    While Chevron says it had engaged 18 ships in the cleanup on a rotation basis, the environmental division of the federal police sent a crew to the region who reported seeing only one. Local authorities have accused the company of overlooking the fact that the oil has moved dangerously close to regional river mouths. Residents have complained of sickness, including dizziness and vomiting.

    To add to the drama, the drilling contractor, Transocean, owns the Deepwater Horizon rig that involved in last year's Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill, the largest in U.S. history.

    Brazil, the world's seventh-largest economy, is poised to continue its amazing growth in the near future. In the past few years, an estimated 50 billion barrels of oil have been found in very deep waters northeast of Rio, the biggest found in the West in 30 years.

    When you fly to Rio nowadays, it's clear that a substantial fraction of the passengers work for the oil business. Meanwhile, Brazil's own giant oil company, the stated-controlled Petrobrás, is the fourth-largest company in the world by market capitalization. Whoever still thinks Brazil is a third-world country should think again. Or come down and take a look.

    The new oil reserves, known as "pre-salt," present an extraordinary technical challenge, lying under a salt deposit over one-mile thick. The oil reserves themselves are located over four miles deep. I have nightmares thinking of what could happen to this spectacularly beautiful coast. Since its discovery, one hears a lot of euphoric statements of the economic potential of such discovery and precious little about the enormous environmental dangers of exploiting oil at such depths and under such conditions.

    The current Chevron oil spill, I hope, will raise the awareness of both politicians and the population to what could happen if a really bad spill were to occur here.

    While much of the world is debating how to move away from oil and fossil fuels, Brazil, with its vast natural resources and the largest hydroelectric power usage in the world (around 90 percent of the country's total usage), seems to be going backwards. I wonder if their dream of becoming the world's fifth-largest economy in a decade is feasible without a deep re-evaluation of its energy policy. Oil is becoming harder and harder to extract here and everywhere. Why is it so hard to get the picture?

    You can keep up with more of what Marcelo is thinking on Facebook.

    re-posted by Armando Rozário – Cabo Frio, Brazil – November 30, 2011

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