Brazil is seeking further information over an alleged oil spill from a tanker off its northern coast in September.

The executive secretary of the country’s environment ministry, Joao Paulo Capobianco, told reporters the government wants more details on the incident, Reuters reported.

He said early indications were that the spill was located in international waters, although the information needed to be corroborated.

Non-governmental organisation Arayara Institute has said satellite images showed a 170 square-kilometre slick.

Initial assessments suggested the leak may have come from a Panama-flag ship, it said in a statement.

Brazil plans to contact the International Maritime Organization over the matter.

The government is also working with the navy to identify the ships in the area at the time.

This is the second time in five years that Brazil has investigated a major spill off its coast.

In 2021, federal police filed charges against a company behind a Greek-flag tanker blamed for a leak that dirtied coastlines across 11 states in 2019 and 2020.

Officials also charged the tanker’s chief engineer and captain.

None of the defendants were named, and police did not say whether the company charged was the ship’s owner or manager.

Counting the costs

The charges came as part of a sweeping investigation over the spill, which hit swathes of Brazil’s coast between August 2019 and March 2020.

Officials said the clean-up cost of BRL 188m ($32.5m) established the minimum value of environmental damages.

As TradeWinds reported, the spill off northern Brazil sparked a hunt for clues that led to at least two tankers being blamed for the incident, with owners, flag state officials and researchers denying those ships were responsible.

At one point, five Greek-flag ships were being investigated.