Environmental concerns halt Petrobras’ plans for equatorial prospect in offshore Brazil

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Petrobras had plans to drill the Morpho 1-APS-57 prospect in block FZA-M-059 but this was stopped short when the environmental agency, the Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) denied the license after concerns were lodged. 

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Petrobras, Jean-Paul Prates announced on June 2 that the state-run oil major will appeal the regulator’s decision.

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Located in the deep waters of Amapá, offshore Brazil, the area known as the Brazilian Equatorial Margin is thought to hold nearly five billion barrels worth of oil as it has similar geology to Guyana, where ExxonMobil has discovered a rich pool of hydrocarbons. 

An oil rig has been in place since early December 2022 awaiting approval to drill the exploratory well.

Petrobras had said that the potential new frontier would complement and eventually come to replace Brazil’s prolific pre-salt fields which drive its revenues and account for more than 75% of the company’s production.

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Ahead of the announcement, Brazil’s President Lula said at the G7 Summit said “If exploring this oil poses a problem for the Amazon, it certainly would not be explored, but I find it difficult because it is 530 kilometres away from the Amazon.”

The IBAMA in its decision cited environmental risks, discrepancies in environmental studies, and inadequate measures for communicating with indigenous communities in the area. But Petrobras maintains that it met all the conditions imposed by IBAMA to obtain the license.

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