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Brazil: Charges Filed Against Chevron and Transocean Execs After Oil Leak

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17 oil company executives are facing criminal charges as a result of the Chevron/Transocean oil leak off the Rio de Janeiro coast in November. At least 110,000 gallons (416,000 liters) of oil seeped through fissures on the ocean floor near a Chevron appraisal well with spokesperson admitting they underestimated the pressure in the underwater reservoir. The well, drilled by Transocean, has since been sealed, but a small amount of recent seepage has raised concerns that the damage is not yet over.

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Aruba: Valero to Suspend Refining

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Valero has announced that it is suspending refining operations at its 235,000 bpd facility in Aruba. In a statement, the company noted that the site has been operating at reduced rates because of inadequate margins, resulting in financial losses, and added that the outlook for continued unfavourable refining economics drove its decision.

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Brazil: No Revision to 2012 Investment Plans, says Petrobras

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Brazil's state oil firm, Petrobras, has denied that the company plans to reduce the size of its planned investments this year. The company, which has an ambitious $224.7bn plan in place for 2011 to 2015, recently confirmed that it would need to import more fuel to meet rising domestic demand, putting more pressure on its downstream operations.

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Argentina: New Reports of YPF Nationalisation as Contracts Cancelled

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Argentinean newspaper El Dia is reporting that plans are being prepared to nationalise the country's largest oil and gas firm, YPF, as two provinces cancel the company's exploitation contract at four different wells. The newspaper claimed that new nationalisation proposals were being prepared for lawmakers to approve, citing unnamed sources in the legislature. 

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Brazil: Petrobras Expects Imports to Double as Demand Surges

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Brazil's state-operated oil company Petrobras will need to import more fuel from abroad to keep up with rising domestic demand, the company's downstream director Paulo Roberto Costa (pictured) said in an interview with local publication Valor Economico. Petrobras expects to import 160,000 bpd of gasoline during 2012, double the amount brought in last year, he said. Despite the projected rise in imports,Petrobras' refineries are running at a record 93% efficiency, up from 90% last year. 

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Columbia: Ecopetrol CEO Defiant in Face of Sabotage

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Ecopetrol’s Chief Executive Officer, Javier Gutierrez (pictured), has said that increased Government security would enable to the company to meet its targets despite increasing guerrilla sabotage. “Ten years ago when you talked about attacks on infrastructure, there was a certain level of uncertainty,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg. “The country has been able to show for a long time that it does have the capacity to guarantee operating conditions.”

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