Brazil: Up to 2,600 barrels of oil leaked

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More than 2,600 barrels of oil may have spilled into the Atlantic ocean because of a leak at an offshore Chevron drilling site, Brazil's environmental protection agency said.

Officials think 200 to 330 barrels of oil leaked each day from November 8 through Tuesday, the Ibama agency said in a statement on its website yesterday.

Chevron has said that 400 to 650 barrels of oil in total leaked into the ocean. Officials are still investigating the exact cause of the leak, which has been almost entirely contained, but the Ibama statement said it was a result of the drilling.

A spokesman for Brazil's Federal Police, which has opened an investigation into the spill, said that Chevron "drilled about 500 meters farther than they were licensed to do." The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to discuss the matter.

The leak occurred at a drilling site about 370 kilometers northeast of Rio de Janeiro.

Rio state Environment Minister Carlos Minc said earlier he was sure the leak was larger than Chevron estimated and he called for more transparency from the company.

"We can't trivialise this," he told the Globo TV network. "It's really serious and we don't yet know all the consequences."

The oil slick, which is moving away from the coast, grew to 18 kilometers, according to the Ibama statement. Most of the oil is concentrated around the drilling rig and is about 1 meter thick.

Marine life in the area of the spill will be affected by the leak, Minc said, adding that whales are migrating from north to south through the spill area.

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