"The Government have clearly sent the message to Shell, ‘you can do whatever you want’. Fortunately due to protest, the refinery remains unconnected to the gas field. If, as Shell planned, gas had been flowing by now, we would potentially all be dealing with a gas leak and explosion.”
A "minimal amount" of gas leaked at a drilling platform off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state in the Campos basin, Brazil's main oil-producing area, but there was no danger of a fire or explosion, state-controlled oil giant Petrobras said.
The leak occurred early Friday on the P-40 drilling platform and repair teams are working to fix the problem, a company spokesperson said.
A "risk analysis (was conducted) and its conclusions were discussed and accepted by the internal accident prevention committee", Petrobras said.
The leak does not pose a "danger to the people working" on the platform, the oil company said.
Union spokesmen said earlier that the leak occurred in an area that has been under repair since last year.
"The workers are standing by the decision to halt production on the platform. For the union, this precaution should have been taken immediately after the leak was identified under the 'when in doubt, stop,' rule," the Norte Fluminense Oil Workers Union said in a statement.
Brazil has been dealing this month with an oil spill from a Chevron Corp appraisal well in the Campos basin.
Last Wednesday, the National Petroleum Agency, or ANP, temporarily barred Chevron from drilling new wells.
The ban will last "until the causes and those responsible for the oil spill are identified and safe conditions are re-established" at the offshore Frade field where the accident occurred, the regulatory agency said in a statement.
The spill began November 8 at an appraisal well in the offshore Campos basin due to an "unexpected pressure spike or 'kick'" during "drilling toward a targeted reservoir", Chevron said in its preliminary assessment of the incident.
The San Ramon, California-based company estimates that a total of 2,400 barrels of crude leaked from the well, although Rio de Janeiro state officials contend close to 15,000 barrels were spilled.
Environmental officials have ordered Chevron to pay 50 million reais ($28 million), while the ANP is considering slapping the oil supermajor with another two fines for a similar amount and the Rio de Janeiro state government is preparing to sue the company for 100 million reais ($56 million) in damages.
Chevron Brasil Upstream Frade Ltd, a Chevron Corp subsidiary, is the lead operator in the Frade field with a 51.7 per cent stake.
Petrobras has a 30 per cent interest in the project and the Frade Japao Petroleo Ltda. consortium controls the remaining stake.