Brazil denies license to Petrobras to drill in Amazonas

Brazil denies license to Petrobras

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The Brazilian environmental agency denied this Wednesday (05.17.2023) the state oil company Petrobras the license to carry out exploratory drilling at the mouth of the Amazon River in the Atlantic Ocean, a decision celebrated by environmental groups.

The project presented by Petrobras to the authorities has “worrying inconsistencies for safe operation” in an area considered a “new exploratory frontier of high socio-environmental vulnerability,” said the president of the environmental agency IBAMA, Rodrigo Agostinho, in the document denying the license.

The proposed drilling area is located 179 km off the coast of the municipality of Oiapoque, in the Brazilian state of Amapá (north), bordering French Guiana.

IBAMA’s technical department had recommended at the end of April that the agency deny the license after identifying “deficiencies” in the evaluation of the impacts of the project, among them in the protection of fauna in case of accidents, or in the communication plan with local indigenous villages. The entity considered that there would be a “probable loss of impacted biodiversity in the event of accidents involving oil spills,” according to the documents.

In 2018, the agency had already denied French oil company Total a license for drilling activities in the region for similar reasons.

Projects to explore the mouth of the Amazon in the Atlantic Ocean for crude have drawn criticism for years from environmental groups who warn of the risks it could pose to the freshwater barrier reef discovered in the region in 2016.

IBAMA “is postponing the end of the world,” the NGO Observatorio do Clima celebrated in a statement on Wednesday. By denying the license, the president of the regulatory agency “is protecting a virtually unknown ecosystem and maintaining the coherence of the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, which has promised to be guided by the fight against the climate crisis,” the NGO added.

“It is time to establish a timetable for the elimination of fossil fuels and accelerate the just transition for oil-exporting countries like Brazil, not to open a new exploration frontier,” said Suely Araújo, public policy specialist at the Observatory and former president . of IBAMA (2016-2019).

After four years of Jair Bolsonaro in power, who according to experts weakened regulations and environmental protection agencies, Lula promised to reverse his policies and strengthen preservation mechanisms, especially in the Amazon, where he said he would eradicate illegal deforestation by 2030.