(Reuters) There is no contradiction between defending an ecological transition and new oil exploration fronts, the chief of staff for Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Wednesday, as state-run giant Petrobras seeks clearance to drill a well at the mouth of the Amazon River.
“It’s in the name – it is an ecological and energy transition,” chief of staff Rui Costa said in a radio interview. “And to fund that transition, we need money.”
His remarks come as Amazon rainforest nations faced divisions over proposals to block new oil drilling when they met last week for their first summit in 14 years.
Colombian President Gustavo Petro pushed Lula to block all new oil development in the region, as Brazil weighs whether to develop a potentially huge offshore oil find on the coast of northern Amapa state.
Lula has staked his international reputation on reversing environmental back-sliding under his far-right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro, when Amazon deforestation soared.
Yet the leftist leader is under pressure to deliver much-needed growth to poor, under-developed regions in the north and northeast, and wants Petrobras to be an engine of that growth.
“There is no contradiction. You indicate where you want to get and then you’ll need resources for that,” Costa said. “We are going to build a sustainable, renewable energy matrix, but it’s obvious that we need to fund that transition process.”
Environmental protection agency Ibama has previously rejected Petrobras’ request to drill the well at the mouth of the Amazon, citing discrepancies in environmental studies. But the oil giant has appealed the decision.
Petrobras Chief Executive Jean Paul Prates in an interview with GloboNews on Tuesday said the company has been waiting for a new ruling.