On Wednesday, the Brazilian Environmental Institute (IBAMA) denied an environmental license requested by state company Petrobras to explore oil fields at the mouth of the Amazon River.
The license was the only authorization Petrobras needed to begin drilling in the “Equatorial Margin”, an oceanic basin in the Atlantic Ocean where large hydrocarbon deposits would be found.
“Petrobras had every opportunity to modify important aspects of its project, which still presents worrying inconsistencies concerning the socio-environmental consequences of oil operations in the new discovery boundary,” said Rodrigo Agostinho, president of IBAMA.
Their decision was accompanied by a technical report that showed the need to carry out an environmental assessment of the sedimentary area, which would make it possible to identify areas affected by the exploitation of crude oil and gas. However, this evaluation has never been done.
Brazil's environmental regulator refused to grant a license for a controversial offshore oil drilling project near the mouth of the Amazon River.
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Agostinho explained that the estuary of the Amazon is considered an area of ”extreme socio-environmental sensitivity” because it is home to environmental reserves, indigenous territories, mangroves, coral reefs and endangered marine species, such as gray dolphins and manatees.
The Brazilian Equatorial Margin is a deep-water region of the Atlantic where Guyana and Suriname have already discovered 13 billion barrels of crude oil reserves.
Environment Minister Marina Silva said that instead of looking for new exploration frontiers, Petrobras should start thinking about energy transition, especially at a time when climate change has become a global priority.
The position reflects a clear difference in public policy between the administrations of President Lula da Silva and Jair Bolsonaro, who have defended granting oil exploitation permits in environmentally sensitive areas.
#Brazil | Deforestation in the Amazon during the government of outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro, which began in 2019 and will end in eight days, increased by 94 percent, compared to years prior to his administration. pic.twitter.com/xPu5jN6uhD
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