Brazil oil spill: Greek-flagged tanker believed to be source


The operators of a Greek-flagged tanker considered the "prime suspect" for a series of oil spills along the Brazilian coast in the past two months denied Saturday that the vessel was to blame.

According to a Reuters dispatch, Brazilian investigators on Friday claimed that a Greek-flagged ship carrying Venezuelan crude was the source of oil polluting thousands of kilometers of coastline over the past two months, while in the same report a prosecutors" document obtained by Reuters allegedly identified the ship as the "Bouboulina'.

"There is no proof of the vessel having stopped, conducted any kind of STS operation (Ship to Ship), leaked, slowed down or veered off course, on its passage from Venezuela to Melaka, Malaysia", the company Delta Tankers Ltd said in a statement.

Brazilian authorities said they were seeking the cooperation of global agencies, including Interpol, to further investigate the ship, its crew and the company.

Delta Tankers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The ship was loaded with oil at Venezuela's terminal San Jose, the Brazilian Navy said separately. There are little details on this but authorities said they both have commercial relationships with the company suspected of being behind the oil spill.

The contradictory accounts, along with the execution of police search warrants in Rio de Janeiro, took a dramatic turn in the investigation of the mysterious oil spill that has stained tropical beaches along 2,500 km (1,500 miles) of the coast of Brazil.

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Brazil's solicitor general has said he would seek damages in the case, which has hurt tourism and coastal fishing communities.

It was unclear when the US detention occurred.

Samples from the crude at the beaches are being analyzed in the U.S., France, and Norway to determine the origin, while theories abound as to where the oil came from.

The ministry said in a statement it had compared satellite images from June 29 displaying "an oil spill" to others from earlier dates without the black mark.

Brazil has so far collected some 2,000 tonnes of sludge from its beaches in continuing cleanup efforts, while working to rehabilitate birds and sea turtles coated in the thick crude. The government has deployed several groups to help with the cleanup efforts but officials said the disaster has been hard to contain.

Because the heavy crude does not float on the ocean surface like most oil slicks, officials said traditional methods of keeping it off the shore have been ineffective.