Editor's note: This story was last updated at 3:30 p.m. May 19.
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Brazil’s environmental protection agency IBAMA has rejected the environmental licensing process for Petrobras’ exploratory drilling program offshore northeast Brazil.
The planned well is in Block FZA-M-59, 175 km from the coast of Amapá and more than 500 km from the mouth of the Amazon River.
Petrobras countered that it had not received official notification from the agency, adding that once this comes through it would submit a request for reconsideration at the administrative level.
The company said it had strictly complied with all requirements of the licensing process, and all resources mobilized in Amapá and Pará for the pre-operational assessment (simulated to test the emergency response plans) were in accordance with IBAMA's decisions and approvals.
Petrobras also noted that it has a commitment to the licensing agency ANP to develop the block and will incur a contractual fine if work does not proceed.
The company stressed that it remained committed to the development of the Brazilian Equatorial Margin and opening new frontiers to ensure the country's energy security. Satisfying Brazil's future demand for oil would have to come from new sources, it noted, in addition to the presalt Santos and Campos basins in the southeast.
Following IBAMA’s decision, the contracted rig and associated resources will be re-directed to the company's activities in the southeastern basins.
Petrobras has received a letter, through which the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) requests that Petrobras, within its rules of governance and in compliance with strict legality, reiterate the request for licensing of the activity with the Brazilian IBAMA, making all necessary efforts to meet the conditions and prove the adequacy of the project for the safe and sustainable exploration of the area.
The MME pointed out that, besides the strategic importance of sustainable exploration of the Equatorial Margin, considering the aspects related to energy security and maintenance of the country's self-sufficiency in oil, the issue is fundamental from the social point of view, since it proposes to leverage the development of some of the states with the lowest HDI in the country, through the collection of government takes and the creation of jobs and income for its population.
Finally, the MME requests to evaluate the possibility, within the strictest legality, observing the rules of governance and the interests of the company, of keeping the rig and the resources destined to the well mobilized, for an additional time that will allow the discussions with IBAMA to advance for the licensing of this important activity in the scope of the E&P policy for oil and natural gas in the country.