A mysterious oil spill pollutes thousands of kilometers of coastline in Brazil

While the origin of these oil cakes remains unknown, Brazil accuses Venezuela of being "probably" at the origin of this pollution, which the state oil company PDVSA formally denies.

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Where do these oil patches come from, invading Brazilian beaches? While an oil spill has raged since the beginning of September in the northeast of the country, the Brazilian authorities accused Wednesday, October 9, Venezuela of being at the origin. Claims that the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA has formally denied "Unfounded" the statements of Brazil.

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For more than a month, Brazilians have seen patches of oil appear on their beaches, polluting a vast region in the north-east of the country. This mysterious spill has been spotted at least 2,000 km along the Atlantic coast. This new environmental crisis concerns 132 beaches, located in all nine states of northeastern Brazil, a poor region known for the beauty of its coast, and whose economic activity depends largely on tourism.

The Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, who flew over the area on Sunday, assures that "Urgent measures will be taken to combat this pollution". Until Monday, the authorities had removed 133 tons of oil residues. Pending action by the national authorities, the state of Sergipe declared an emergency last week, prompting the population no longer to go to the beaches, reports the Guardian. This oil spill also raises serious concerns about biodiversity in the region. Biologists have taken care of several oil-covered turtles stranded on the beaches. Some could not be saved.

A petroleum-coated sea turtle crawls along Itatinga Beach after a mysterious oil spill affecting Brazil on September 22, 2019. JULIO DERANZANI BICUDO / via REUTERS
  • How are the Brazilian authorities reacting?

The Brazilian state oil company Petrobras, which took part in the clean-up operations, before carrying out analyzes on samples taken, assured last week that this oil was not "Neither produced nor marketed by the company".

President Jair Bolsonaro said Monday that the authorities had identified "A country whose oil could originate"without mentioning anyone. Diplomatic relations were already very tense with the socialist regime in Caracas, which he described as "Dictatorial" the head of state had indeed kept citing Venezuela.

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Finally, it was the Minister of the Environment who threw the shame on the country: "This oil probably comes from Venezuela, as a Petrobras report shows. This oil was in a foreign ship that was sailing near the Brazilian coast.he said Wednesday before a parliamentary commission. And to clarify his words the next day: "We are not saying that the oil leak comes from Venezuelan wells. What we say (…) it is that the oil that has been found is, first, not of Brazilian origin, and secondly, that it is very probably Venezuelan. "

  • What does Venezuela say?

The Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA denied Thursday that it was behind the oil spill. "PDVSA categorically rejects the statements of the Brazilian Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, who accuses Venezuela of being at the origin of crude oil patches that contaminate the beaches of northeastern Brazil since early September"said the group in a statement.

The company judges "Unfounded" the claims of Brazil, "As there is no evidence of any oil spill on Venezuelan oil fields that could have caused damage to the neighboring country's maritime ecosystem".

The oil spill comes as the government of Bolsonaro is criticized for its non-existent environmental policy, including measures to promote deforestation of the Amazon to the detriment of indigenous peoples.

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