Brazil President Bolsonaro Says Beach Oil Slicks Not Produced in Brazil, Suggesting It's From Another Country

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro told reporters on Monday that an oil spill that has affected over 100 beaches in northeastern Brazil is not of Brazilian origin. According to Reuters, the source of the oil pollution is still under investigation.

"It could be something criminal, it could be an accidental spill, it could also be a ship that sank," Bolsonaro said. "It is complex. We have on our radar screen a country that could be the origin of the oil."

Reports state that molecular tests on the samples of the crude oil show they are not from Petroleo Brasileiro, more commonly known as Petrobras, the state-run oil company. Crude oil can have different identifiers depending on which field it is from. These can include levels of sulfur and nitrogen, acidity and viscosity.

The oil spill has affected roughly 932 miles of coastline, according to Deutsche Welles. That accounts for approximately 100 beaches and 46 cities.

jair bolsonaro, brazil, environment, UN General Assembly
President of Brazil Jair Messias Bolsonaro addresses the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters on September 24, 2019 in New York City. Drew Angerer/Getty

The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) stated on September 27 that fish and shellfish had not been shown to be contaminated. Brazil's health agency is responsible for assessing the safety of seafood caught in oil spill affected areas.

Environmental cleanup crews have been working on beaches in eight Brazilian states at the behest of IBAMA.

While no official word has been given about the origin of the mysterious oil spill, news magazine Època says Petrobras sent a report to IBAMA last week saying Venezuela may be responsible.

Bolsonaro has been heavily criticized for his rollback of environmental policies. So far this year, there have been 87,000 forest fires in Brazil, according to

Bolsonaro's deregulation of the Amazon has allowed those involved in agribusiness, particularly the beef and soy trades, to move into previously unusable parts of the rainforest.

At a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September, Bolsonaro claimed the fires in the Amazon had been overstated by the media.

"We all know that all countries have problems," Bolsonaro said, according to UN News. "Yet, the sensationalist attacks that we have suffered coming from a large part of the international media due to the fire outbreaks in the Amazonian region have aroused our patriotic sentiment."

But NASA satellites have collected data which says 2019 has been the most active year for fires in the Amazon since 2010. The patterns and locations of the fires are consistent with clearing land. The fires are also more intense than fires recorded in previous years.

Brazilian government officials have blamed increased drought for the fires, while Bolsonaro has claimed that NGOs (non-profit organizations) started the blazes in retaliation over funding cutbacks, according to Al Jazeera.