Oil spill could be an act of sabotage: Brazil president

Reuters . Rio De Janeiro | Update:

A man works to remove an oil spill on Muro Alto beach in Tamandare, Pernambuco state, Brazil on 19 October 2019. Photo: ReutersBrazilian president Jair Bolsonaro questioned on Friday whether a far-reaching oil spill on the nation's northeastern shore may have been a criminal act designed to harm a major oil auction scheduled for November.

“Coincidence or not, we have the transfer-of-rights auction,” said Bolsonaro in a Facebook Live video, referring to an oil bidding scheduled for 6 November, in which an array of major oil players will compete for $26 billion worth of production rights in large offshore oil areas of Brazil.

An oil spill is seen on Carneiros beach in Tamandare, Pernambuco state, Brazil on 18 October 2019. Photo: Reuters“I wonder, we have to be very responsible about what we say - could it have been a criminal act to harm this auction? It's a question that's out there.”

Bolsonaro offered no evidence for his statements.

Oil has been washing up on the shore of northeastern Brazil for two months, but its origin has remained a mystery so far. On Wednesday, Brazilian state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA said it had cleaned up some 200 million tonnes of the oil from Brazil's beaches.

Men work on oil containment booms on the river next to Viral beach in Aracaju, Sergipe state, Brazil on 13 October 2019. Photo: ReutersOn Thursday, the head of Brazil's environmental regulator said tests had proved the oil was Venezuelan. He said that the cause of the spill was criminal in nature, as it would otherwise have been reported.

He added, however, that Venezuela may not be responsible for the spill, even if the oil originated there.

An oil spill is seen on `Sitio do Conde` beach in Conde, Bahia state, Brazil on 12 October 2019. Photo: ReutersVenezuela has denied responsibility for the oil.

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