IBAMA grants Petrobras license to drill in the Potiguar Basin on the Equatorial Margin

(AB) The Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) reported that the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) granted an environmental license for Petrobras to drill wells in the Potiguar Basin segment, off the coast of Rio Grande do Norte, on the Equatorial Margin. The license would refer to the research activity of oil and natural gas production capacity in the location. The estimated reserves of this basin are 2 billion barrels of oil.

According to Ibama, the license should be signed Oct. 2.

In a note, Petrobras clarified that it received, this Friday, the Collection Guide from Ibama, which precedes the issuance of the environmental license. It allows the drilling of two exploratory wells in the BM-POT-17 offshore block, in deep waters of the Potiguar Basin.

“The first well will be drilled 52 km from the coast. The forecast is to receive the document on Monday, after completing administrative procedures for its release”, says the oil company.

The Equatorial Margin covers five offshore basins, between Amapá and Rio Grande do Norte, including the Foz do Amazonas Basin, on the coast of Amapá, whose license for offshore prospecting was denied in May this year and generated public debates on the exploration of the region. At the time, Ibama claimed that the decision was taken “due to a set of technical inconsistencies” for a safe operation in a new exploratory area.

At the end of last month, in a public hearing of the Mines and Energy Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, the president of Ibama, Rodrigo Agostinho, stated that one of the problems with the project presented by Petrobras is the deficiency in the fauna protection plan. Agostinho also said that the request to reevaluate the proposal is under technical analysis. Also speaking to Senate committees, the president of Petrobras, Jean Paul Prates, minimized the possible environmental risks of oil production in that region.

In the case of the Potiguar Basin, according to the MME, Ibama positively evaluated the structure employed by the company, as well as the execution of the strategy to protect coastal conservation units. “As a global assessment, the institute team considered that the individual emergency and fauna protection plans were executed as conceptually approved in the licensing process,” explained the ministry in a statement.

The ministry also defends the continuity of research into the potential of oil reserves in the Equatorial Margin, including in the Foz do Amazonas Basin. “From this moment on [granting the license in the Potiguar Basin], I am sure that Ibama technicians will be able to dedicate themselves, even more diligently than they have already done, and advance in studies of the necessary conditions for research in the Equatorial Margin also on the coast of Amapá”, highlighted the Minister of Mines and Energy, Alexandre Silva, in the MME statement.

Petrobras reported that it intends to drill 16 exploratory wells in the Equatorial Margin in five years. The investment planned for the region is around US$3 billion, directed towards research projects and investigation of the region’s oil potential. “The new Brazilian borders are essential for guaranteeing national energy security and sovereignty, in a context of energy transition and low-carbon economy”, he stated in the note.

Potiguar Basin
Drilling in the Potiguar Basin should begin next month, after the rig arrives in the location. With the exploratory research, Petrobras intends to obtain more geological information about the area to assess the economic viability and extent of the oil discovery made in 2013 in the Pitu well. “There is no oil production at this stage,” he explained.

The project to evaluate the Pitu discovery, in the Potiguar Basin, is foreseen in the current Petrobras Strategic Plan, for the period between 2023 and 2027.

Petrobras also informed that it met all the requirements and procedures requested by Ibama. “As the last stage of evaluation, the company carried out, between 18 and 20/9, an on-site simulation, called Pre-Operational Assessment (APO), through which Ibama proved Petrobras’ ability to provide an immediate and robust to an accidental event involving an oil spill”, says the note.

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