Minister Marina reaffirms in the Senate that oil prospecting on the coast of Amapá is a technical issue – News of Brazil

Minister Marina reaffirms in the Senate that oil prospecting on the coast of Amapá is a technical issue – News of Brazil

For the third time at the helm of the environmental department, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Marina Silva, was heard at a hearing this Tuesday (12) at the Senate’s Infrastructure Committee (CI) on the possibility of environmental licensing so that Petrobras explores gas and oil off the coast of Amapá. After a recent refusal by the Brazilian Institute of the Environment (Ibama) to release prospecting in lots on the coast of Amapá, the minister emphasized that the decision, which highlighted inconsistencies in the environmental impact study in Petrobras’ request, was technical and not political.

“The president of Ibama followed the advice of the technicians, because in a republican government, that is what is done. How did it happen before? The technicians said one thing, the president of Ibama and the minister said another: that’s what happened in the last four years. But it was not the first time that this license was denied: also in 2018, under President Temer’s government, it was denied, although not to Petrobras”, he said Marina Silva.

The request for the hearing was presented by senator Lucas Barreto (PSD-AP), who demanded explanations as to why oil prospecting on the coast of the state of Amapá was not authorized, remembering that “oil has to fulfill its social function” . He highlighted the economic hardship of the majority of the population of 877 thousand inhabitants, highlighting that there is no due compensation for environmental preservation. Barreto recalled that the Amapá bench is unanimous in defending prospecting on the state’s coast.

Energy policy

Accompanied by the department’s executive secretary, João Paulo Capobianco, and the president of Ibama, Rodrigo Agostinho, the minister emphasized that the opinion was signed by ten Ibama technicians, and the denial was for reasons of not meeting socio-environmental requirements, among others. , identified in the process. Marina Silva pointed out issues such as the identification of the incidence of a considerable number of flights over indigenous communities, and that Petrobras indicated an alternative that was declared insufficient. Agostinho reinforced the minister’s speech, denying any bias of a political nature.

“Ibama does not make energy policy, but Ibama wants a more technical study. (…) The decision was technical and not political” he stated, also highlighting that numerous licenses have been granted to Petrobras, and that the agency is currently licensing the fourth stage of the pre-salt.

the senator Lucas Barreto stated that “Amapá is the richest state on the planet because of Renca (National Copper and Associated Reserve) and oil and is the most preserved in the world”but despite this, 54% of the population is below the poverty line and 72% earn less than two minimum wages.

“We are the most preserved state, 97% of our primary forests are standing. We don’t want to tear down a leaf, but we want to prospect for oil”stated Barreto, when defending that Amapá “did his homework” regarding environmental preservation, and charge “compensation”given the socioeconomic reality of the state.

The senator emphasized that Petrobras has 1,100 stations on the coast of Brazil, all with licenses, “but when it arrives in Amapá it cannot”. According to Barreto, this is an agenda that unites the three senators from Amapá.

“We are not going to give up on oil exploration on the coast of Amapá. (…) This is a social polarization and not an environmental one, which could develop our state, which it needs so much.”

When defending the technical decisions, Marina stated that “politics is not asepsis”, but it was decided that more than 90% of even the bonus roles in the MMA would be for career civil servants, “because we need people’s expertise”.

“The shielding [contra interferências políticas] already exists as a function of technique and ethics and political results as a function of society”explained the manager.


The debate took place after Ibama recently vetoed Petrobras’ request for drilling (to check for oil) on the equatorial margin, 179 kilometers off the coast of Amapá. Ibama pointed out, after submitting the request and supplementing information by the company, that “inconsistencies in the environmental study” remained, which is why it was suggested that the environmental license be rejected and the process archived.

Marina Silva emphasized that each environmental process has its uniqueness and cannot be repeated as in case law.

“We want things to happen quickly, without loss of quality. We also work with acuity, which sometimes generates misunderstandings. (…) We are required to have speed, but the Constitution says we have to have acuity”, said Marina, emphasizing that the opinion was signed by Ibama’s technical staff, and the denial was due to non-compliance with environmental requirements identified in the process.

Executive Secretary of the Ministry of the Environment, João Paulo Capobianco stated that there is unequivocal proof of the existence of corals throughout the equatorial margin region and that the movement of currents is something of concern, should an oil leak occur.

However, the existence of corals, nor the absence of Environmental Assessment of Sedimentary Areas (AAAS) were the reasons for the denial of environmental licensing, according to the president of Ibama, Rodrigo Agostinho. He recalled that in 2018 there was a refusal at the request of other companies that had purchased five blocks in the Amazon basin and that later sold their majority stakes to Petrobras.

Response in the event of an accident

The president of Ibama presented concerns that he considers relevant, such as the protection structure – in case of an accident – presented by Petrobras to be 43 hours by speedboat from Belém, 830 kilometers from prospecting, while these structures would need to be in Oiapoque, which is about 80 kilometers from the site.

“Ibama does not make energy policy, but Ibama wants a more technical study. (…) The decision was technical and not political,” he said, noting that it is “very important that regulatory aspects bring a more solid foundation to the licensing process.”

He further explained that better done and complete studies sent to Ibama end up with quicker responses from the environmental agency.

Environmental licensing

Addressing the president of the Infrastructure Commission, senator Confúcio Moura (MDB-RO), who is rapporteur for one of the projects that deal with a general environmental licensing law — another, with the same content, is in the hands of senator Tereza Cristina (PP-MS) —, Marina Silva said that, despite being established for 40 years, the issue of environmental licensing is still misunderstood. This is even though licensing has already become part of Brazil’s constitutional dynamics as one of the most effective processes, both at the municipal, state and federal levels.

For the minister, environmental licensing involves processes that are highly beneficial to the public interest of society in general and the business sector to protect the environment and provide enterprises with a series of benefits, from legal security to economics.

Marina recalled that environmental licensing applies to public goods for common use, but also to private property and the rules are also subject to these.

“Even private goods have a social function and represent the public interest. (…) This is why the licensing process is essential”explained.

The minister also stated that a great effort has been made to provide the means for entrepreneurs to present the best environmental studies to achieve licensing and that the aim is to increase the number of employees in environmental agencies.

For the minister, it is necessary to expand the discussion of the draft General Environmental Licensing Law (PL 2,159/2021), currently being processed in the House, considering that there are points that require reassessment.

Safe response

Senator Esperidião Amin (PP-SC) highlighted that a perfect checklist has not yet been reached for decision-making on the technical decision to release prospecting in the area or not, so, according to the senator, it is necessary to define what are the items and their prospective developments that can give Ibama a safe response.

“I support the political decision defended by the Amapá senators and that objectivity can be achieved in the issues to be analyzed. What objectively can be done within the intended scope becomes important”, said Amin.


After two years as president of the Senate Environment Committee (CMA), senator Jaques Wagner (PT-BA) said that it is possible to have a balance between sustainable development and environmental preservation, mentioning the time he was governor of Bahia.

“I completely understand the anxiety. The interest of the people of Amapá is legitimate (…) As for the criteria, the more transparency and objectivity — people may not like the decision — the more [as pessoas] understand the decision”he said Wagner, who is leader of the government in the House.


According to senator Jaime Bagattoli (PL-RO) it is known that “we have to preserve the environment”but something is currently being discussed that will not only benefit Amapá, but the entire country.

“This is not a question of the right or the left, it is a question of Brazil”said the senator when calling for a review of the license.

the senator Marcelo Castro (MDB-PI) highlighted that everyone is in favor of sustainable development, but criticized the nomenclature of the Foz do Amazonas basin, for a region that he would define as “Foz do Oiapoque”, which, according to him, has confused public opinion. The president of Ibama responded that the nomenclature of the region was established by the National Petroleum Agency (ANP), while Capobianco recalled that Foz do Amazonas is part of the region.

Senator Izalci Lucas (PSDB-DF) reinforced support for technical staff within the public administration, but asked how the government intends to deal with the risks of exploration in neighboring countries close to the region.

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