Brazil's Petrobras to appeal decision blocking drilling at Amazon mouth
SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras said on Wednesday it will file this week an appeal against environmental agency Ibama's decision of blocking it from drilling a well at the mouth of the Amazon river.
Petroleo Brasileiro SA said it is ready to meet any additional requirements from Ibama despite considering it has so far fulfilled "every technical needs" for the project to be approved.
Ibama's decision last week to block the drilling caused a split within President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's camp between those who want to prioritize protecting the environment and those who want to use Petrobras to drive much-needed growth.
Lula himself said he found it "difficult" to believe that offshore oil exploration in the Amazon basin would cause environment damage because it would take place miles away from the rainforest, but added that if the drilling posed a problem for the Amazon it would certainly not happen.
Petrobras' decision to appeal Ibama's ban follows a meeting on Tuesday between the firm's chief executive, Mines and Energy Minister Alexandre Silveira, Environment Minister Marina Silva and the environmental agency's head Rodrigo Agostinho.
Silva said after the meeting that political pressure would not lead the agency to reverse its decision, which was based on "technical criteria," but Agostinho left the door open for Petrobras to file new requests.
Petrobras said in a statement on its website the appeal would include additional measures to protect the environment in the northern state of Amapa, the closest to the offshore area it intends to drill.
"The company will commit to expand a fauna stabilization base in the city of Oiapoque in addition to a base already built in Belem, so that in the remote possibility of an oil spilling assistance to the fauna can be carried out in both locations," the oil giant said.
Petrobras noted that the distance between Belem and the drilling site was one of the issues mentioned by the environmental agency to block its previous request.
If Ibama upholds the decision, Petrobras added, the drilling rig and other equipment in the region will be moved to southeastern Brazil.
(Reporting by Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Steven Grattan)