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Petrobras seeks support to explore oil on the equatorial margin | Economy

Map of the area of ​​the Equatorial Margin that Petrobras intends to exploreDisclosure / Petrobras

Published 03/23/2024 11:30

Petrobras held, in recent days, two events to defend the oil and gas exploration on the Brazilian equatorial margin. Considered a possible “new pre-salt”, the region covers an area that goes from the sea coast of Rio Grande do Norte to Amapá, extending from the mouth of the Oiapoque river to the north coast of Rio Grande do Norte, covering the river basins of mouth of the Amazon River.

Exploration of the region, which includes maritime areas located approximately 550 kilometers from the mouth of the Amazon River, suffers strong opposition from environmental, media and international groups who question the expansion of explorationthat of hydrocarbons, identified as the main responsible for the warming of the earth.

Aware of the opposition they face in exploring the region, the oil company has held meetings on the topic in recent years: one in São Luís, Maranhão, with governors from the North and Northeast, and another this Thursday (21), in Brasília, with representatives of the Legislative, Executive, the press and civil society.

In Brasília, Petrobras’ executive exploration manager, Jonilton Pessoa, argued that it is necessary to show society that it is not yet possible to abandon oil production, and that the objective must be to diversify renewable energy sources. He highlighted that it is oil that will finance the energy transition to less polluting sources.

“We have to communicate that it is necessary, to survive in the future, to have a diversity of energy sources, not ending up with a certain source. This is a fact. There is no way you can end oil today with the dependence we still have on it in all industries”, he argued.

Furthermore, he stated, if Brazil does not discover new fields, it will need to increase oil imports from 2028. “The pre-salt is thriving. It’s a great discovery, but it’s finite. If we don’t make this discovery now, in seven or ten years we may have to import hydrocarbons,” he said.

The Petrobras meeting, in Brasília, was attended by the National Confederation of Industry (CNI), which defended the possible gains for the sector that the exploration of the equatorial margin could bring.

For the superintendent of the CNI’s National Observatory of Industry, Márcio Guerra, the debate for and against exploration on the equatorial margin is a communication battle. “This is a challenge that, generally, those who face it have difficulty communicating. And this is the challenge not only for Petrobras, it is the challenge for the industry as a whole.”

Energy without oil

Among the entities that criticize the expansion of oil exploration on the equatorial margin is WWF Brazil, a non-governmental organization focused on environmental preservation. The group’s conservation specialist, Ricardo Fujii, contradicts the company’s arguments and argues that Brazil is well served by oil reserves.

“The global demand for oil can be met by existing fields and approved projects, according to the International Energy Agency’s scenario for complying with the Paris Agreement”, he highlighted.

Ricardo Fujii added that there are resources for energy transition without needing more oil and gas wells. “As investors, companies and governments allocate financial resources to the search and development of oil reserves, the capacity to invest in renewable energy source projects decreases,” he told Agência Brasil.

Environmental issue

Another criticism from environmentalists is the risks of an oil spill on the Brazilian coast of the North and Northeast. In May 2023, Petrobras’ request to research near the coast of Amapá was rejected by the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama), which requested more data on the possible environmental impacts of a disaster in that region.

The oil company then appealed to the environmental agency with more information.

In August 2023, the Attorney General’s Office (AGU) stated that one of the main studies requested – that of the Environmental Assessment of Sedimentary Area (AAAS) – does not need to be carried out, since the area has already been auctioned.

For now, Petrobras is exploring a well in Rio Grande do Norte and is awaiting further authorizations to carry out studies in other blocks.

Petrobras’ licensing and environment manager, Daniele Lomba, argued that the company is capable of protecting the region’s fauna and flora and that it is necessary to invest in communication to hold this debate with society.

“We really have to invest in communication, invest in clarifications, in events like this, and get closer to the press”, highlighted Lomba, adding that we need to demonstrate to society “our ability to carry out (exploration) safely and sustainably. ”

For the state-owned company’s exploration manager, Jonilton Pessoa, the company’s history proves that it operates with maximum safety. “We are a global reference in deep and ultra-deep waters. Operating with an intensive focus on safety, we have already drilled more than 3 thousand wells in deep waters, without accidents involving people or harm to the environment.”

The Brazilian equatorial margin is a geographic region that extends from the mouth of the Oiapoque River to the north coast of Rio Grande do Norte, encompassing the hydrographic basins of the mouth of the Amazon River

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