July 9, 2020
After giving up on appealing a lawsuit, Petrobras has already started talks with the National Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Agency (ANP) to change the name of the Lula field, the largest oil producing field in the country named after former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
The name change was requested in a public civil action filed in 2015 by lawyer Karina Pichsenmeister Palma, a partner in an office in Porto Alegre, claiming that the tribute generated undue and illegal promotion of the former president and damage to public property.
This Tuesday (7), the process was closed by TRF4 (Regional Federal Court of the Fourth Region) after the end of the deadline for appeals without a statement from Petrobras. The decision confirms partial victory that Palma obtained in 2017, determining the change of the name of the field.
“It is proven, in the records, that the administrative act that named the oil field, a public asset, ‘Campo de Lula’ aimed at the personal promotion of a living person (the President of the Republic at the time the act was performed) ‘, wrote Judge Marga Inge Barth Tessler, rapporteur of the process.
Also a defendant in the sentence, the president of Petrobras at the time of the name change, José Sérgio Gabrielli, said there was no illegality in the renaming of the field and denied that it was a tribute to the former president. He requested that his name be removed from the process.
Before the TRF’s decision, Petrobras had also appealed, alleging that there was no evidence of misuse of purpose or evidence of illegality. The state company, however, decided not to question the last sentence and the process was closed on Tuesday (7), after the deadline for appeal.
Lula was one of the first discoveries of the pre-salt, in an exploratory block granted to the state company in 2000. The project was initially named Tupi, but it became Lula in 2010, when it officially became an oil field – that is, when its commercial viability.
Changing the names of oil discoveries after commercial proof is common. The Búzios field, where the biggest Brazilian discovery is today, was called Libra when it was still an exploration project – under the rules of the ANP, the offshore fields in the country must have names linked to marine flora and fauna.
When Petrobras chose to name the Lula field, it denied that it would be a direct tribute to the former President of the Republic. At an event in Ceará in December 2010, however, Lula said he was proud of the choice and thanked Gabrielli.
“Honestly, I was happy. Thank you, Gabrielli,” he said, in an interview after visiting the site where the stillborn Premium Refinery in Ceará would be installed, one of the great projects idealized in PT’s management that was never realized .
The giant discovery motivated the government to pass a new law for the country’s oil sector, creating production sharing contracts, which guarantee the Union part of the oil produced, and a new state-owned company, PPSA, to manage the contracts.
It also served as a justification for the increased demands for the purchase of goods and services in Brazil, with the objective of generating jobs in the shipping industry. The project led to the opening of several shipyards across the country and the creation of the company Sete Brasil, all targets of Operation Lava Jato for allegations of corruption.
Today, with eight platforms installed, Lula and two adjacent discoveries in May produced 1.2 million barrels of oil and gas per day, equivalent to one third of national production.
With a low sulfur content, its oil produces less polluting derivatives and has great demand in the international market, even being traded with premiums on international prices. The “Petroleum Lula” brand is today a reference for pricing pre-salt exports.
The determination to change the name was poorly received by the ANP, given the need for adjustments in the control systems of national oil production. In a note, the agency said it understood that it should not be part of the action, since it did not participate in the choice of name, and that it would not appeal.
Sought, Petrobras has not yet responded to the request for an interview on the subject.