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Brazil to search for oil in the Amazon

Brazil to search for oil in the Amazon

Brazil to search for oil in the Amazon
October 21, 2007

Brazil’s plan to seek oil in the Western Amazon has upset environmentalists, reports the Associated Press (AP).

The National Petroleum Agency, or ANP, plans to put US$36 million toward oil and gas exploration in Acre, a state bordering Bolivia, according to Brazilian state media Agencia Brasil, but environmental officials say no impact study has been done to assess how the plan could affect the Amazon.

“It’s necessary to examine how this will be done, on what scale and in what areas,” Joao Paulo Capobianco, the Environment Ministry’s executive secretary, was quoted as saying. “In theory, there are methodologies and technologies that allow this activity without environmental damage.”

“Development brings damage,” Acre congressman Marcelo Serafim told the AP. “It destroyed the Atlantic forest, it ruined much of the Pantanal (wetlands), and that’s not what we want or defend.”

Oil and gas deposits are found nearby in Bolivia as well as in the Peruvian and Ecuadorian Amazon. Extraction has proven controversial, with a multi-billion lawsuit pending against Chevron-subsidiary Texaco for its role in environmental damage in Ecuador. Nevertheless, with oil prices nearing $90 and new technologies, oil exploration in remote parts of the Amazon is increasingly attractive.

The exploration concerns are similar to those raised over hyroelectric projects in other parts of the Amazon. A project on the Madeira River, expected to cost $10-15 billion, won preliminary approval in July, despite opposition from envionmentalists and scientists.

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