Shareholder group asks Petrobras to skip auction of areas near coral reefs

(Reuters) – Anapetro, an association of shareholders in Brazil’s Petrobras (PETR4.SA)who are also employees, on Thursday publicly asked the state-run oil company to skip an upcoming auction of an oil area near coral reefs, due to environmental concerns.

In a public letter to company management, Anapetro said 14 of the 92 offshore oil exploration areas due to be auctioned off by the governmentare located close to ecologically sensitive maritime reserves, including the Fernando de Noronha archipelago and the Abrolhos archipelago, famed for its coral reefs.

The so-called 17th oil bidding round, scheduled for Oct. 7, includes a broad range of areas off the coast of southeastern and northeastern Brazil.

In addition to Petrobras, Chevron Corp (CVX.N), Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSa.L), TotalEnergies SE (TTEF.PA), Ecopetrol SA (ECO.CN), Karoon Energy Ltd (KAR.AX) and Murphy Oil Corp (MUR.N) have signed up to participate.

“Participating in this auction is reckless, given its judicial and environmental fragility, and also the effective risk to Petrobras’ image,” said Mario Dal Zot, president of Anapetro and the head of judicial affairs for FUP, Brazil’s largest oilworkers’ union.

The letter comes the day before an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting Petrobras is holding to elect eight board members.Petrobras, formally known as Petroleo Brasileiro SA, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Abrolhos archipelago has been the subject of environmental concern in the past. Exploration blocks adjacent to the islands received no bids in a separate round in 2019 after federal prosecutors revealed they were looking into the legality of the potential concessions.

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