Protesters demonstrated in Belém, Brazil on Sunday during a Brazilian government environmental conference, The Amazon Dialogues, against the state oil company Petrobras’s proposal to begin offshore drilling at the mouth of the Amazon River.
The proposed project is located in deep waters off the Brazillian state of Amapá. The protesters’ main concern is Petrobras’ lack of a license for running the oil-drilling project. Currently, Brazilian law requires an Environmental Assessment of Sedimentary Areas (AAAS), which is an environmental impact assessment mechanism initiated under the Ordinance MME-MMA No. 198/2012, to be conducted before such a project could be run in the environmentally complex Amazon River mouth.
The company’s application for a license was rejected by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) on May 17 due to “technical inconsistencies.” According to Ibama, “The basin at the mouth of the Amazon is considered a region of extreme socio-environmental sensitivity because it houses Conservation Units, Indigenous Lands, mangroves, biogenic formations of organisms such as corals and sponges, in addition to great marine biodiversity with endangered species.” Ibama further stated that since its establishment in 2012, an AAAS had never been held in Brazil’s equatorial margin region.
Petrobras filed an appeal against Ibama’s decision on May 23, noting the environmental delicacy of the area but contending they had fulfilled all technical requirements and were prepared to meet any additional demands. However, Marina Silva, Brazil’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, affirmed that the central government would uphold Ibama’s decision.
The Amazon Dialogues were hosted on Sunday in Belém by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change of Brazil, which brought together representatives from governments across the Amazon region. Silva emphasized the importance of sustainable management in the Amazon area at the event, which will continue Tuesday and Wednesday.