Lula takes Brazil’s reins, vowing to combat climate change, protect the Amazon

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Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva has reassumed the Presidency of Brazil, the largest democracy and oil producer in Latin America. With this assumption, Lula delivered an impassioned speech about his plans to tackle inequality, discrimination and threats to Brazil’s democracy. He has also promised to defend the environment.

“It’s time to bring investments and reindustrialize Brazil. To combat climate change again and end once and for all the devastation of our biomes, especially the Amazon,” Lula said in his inauguration speech.

In pursuit of this aim, the new President has named Marina Silva to be his environment minister. Silva is known as an advocate for the protection of the Amazon. The appointment represents a significant about-turn from the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro, under which Amazon deforestation accelerated to levels that sparked an international outcry.

It is notable that the new leader of the region’s biggest oil producer made no mention of this sector in his inaugural speech. However, days before taking up the presidency, Lula announced his Petrobras appointee.

Lula nominated Jean Paul Prates to lead Petrobras. He said in a tweet that the lawyer, economist and energy sector expert will guide Petrobras towards a great future. In a tweet, Prates said Lula charged him to ensure Petrobras remains a reference point in the market, technology, governance and social responsibility.

According to News24, Prates said in August that Petrobras under Lula would reverse years of cost cuts and spend big on refining and renewables, and also rebuild international operations that were curtailed in recent years. The agency also said that within 30 years, Prates sees the company investing as much in clean energy as it does in fossil fuels.

“We must go back to being the great Petrobras we used to be,” Prates is quoted as saying. “It needs to transform itself into a global player in the energy transition.”

Prior to the nomination of Prates, Petrobras released a Strategic Plan 2023-2027, which includes plans to place 18 floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels mostly in pre-salt fields offshore Brazil. The Plan also includes investments earmarked for the drilling of 42 wells in the same period.

Previous Chief Executive Officers (CEO) nominated under the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro switched in and out erratically. The last man to lead the company, Caio Mário Paes de Andrade, departed last month to serve in the São Paulo state government.

Guyana President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali traveled to Brazil and greeted Lula at his inauguration ceremony.

Up-and-coming oil power in the region, Guyana, will do well with further clarity on Lula’s plans for the oil and gas sector in the early months of his presidency. Guyana had held bilaterals with Bolsonaro, and signed several agreements. Guyana President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, said that his government has already sought meetings with Lula. He indicated that he is eager to move on plans to connect Guyana with Brazil. Guyana, Brazil, Suriname and French Guiana have long envisioned the establishment of a regional corridor to share and stabilize energy in the region.

Guyana President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali and new Brazil President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

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