When U.S. data storage provider EMC Corp opened an oil and gas research center in Rio de Janeiro’s Technology Park in 2014, it failed to anticipate a looming downturn in Brazil’s booming oil industry.
Today, the park’s main tenant, state-controlled oil company Petrobras, is hemorrhaging money amid slumping oil prices and the site’s administrator, the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, is trying to diversify.
The energy industry is still a priority “but it’s no longer our exclusive goal,” the park’s executive director José Carlos Pinto said.
The research park sprouted up on university land from 2007 after the discovery of Brazil’s offshore ‘subsalt’ region where giant resources are trapped under a layer of mineral salts far beneath the seabed under a mile and a half of ocean.
Funded by a percentage of Brazilian oil revenues, the park grew in the wake of big offshore discoveries and has received about 2 billion reais ($584 million), most of it for petroleum research.
But funding dwindled in the last two years as oil prices fell and corruption allegations plagued Brazil’s debt-ridden Petrobras.