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Petrobras reports on the licensing of block FZA-M-59 in Amapá

Published in 18/05/2023 at 16:01:17

Petrobras was surprised by the news saying that the environmental licensing process for block FZA-M-59 in Amapá Águas Profundas has been rejected and informs that it has not yet been officially notified. The company will continue to pursue this license and exercise its right to seek administrative reconsideration.
Petrobras reiterates that it strictly complied with all the requirements of the licensing process and all the resources mobilized in Amapá and Pará to carry out the Pre-Operational Assessment (a simulation to assess the emergency response plans) were conducted in strict compliance with decisions and approvals by Ibama.
The development of this block is a commitment assumed by Petrobras before the Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP), and its non-compliance incurs a contractual fine.
The company remains committed to the development of the Brazilian Equatorial Margin, recognizing the importance of new frontiers to ensure the country's energy security and the necessary resources for a fair and sustainable energy transition. To satisfy Brazil’s future demand for oil, the country will have to look for new sources, in addition to the pre-salt layer.
That is why Petrobras is devoting efforts to obtain a drilling license in the Potiguar Basin, as planned in its 2023-27 Strategic Plan, as well as the execution of the planned exploration projects in Brazil and abroad. In case of confirmation of the alleged decision on the news, the rig and the other resources mobilized in the FZA-M-59 block region will be directed, in the coming days, to the company's activities in the basins of the Southeast region.
With this decision, the country relinquishes the right to confirm potential that could contribute to the economic and social development of the North and Northeast regions of the country.
Petrobras reaffirms that the drilling of the well in this license’s scope is located at a distance of 175 kilometers from the coast of Amapá and more than 500 kilometers away from the mouth of the Amazon River.

Contrary to what is stated in Ibama's decision, Petrobras reinforces the technical aspects that corroborate the company's conduct and positioning in this licensing process:  
1 - The conditions originally imposed by Ibama were fully complied with.
In 2020, when Petrobras took over the operation of the block from BP Energy, IBAMA established as a condition for the continuity of the environmental licensing process the maintenance of the already approved premises and the assumption of all the commitments defined up to that moment, namely: (i) Oiapoque Airport as an air base; (ii) Port of Belém as a logistics base; (iii) Fauna Rehabilitation and Depetrolization Center (CRD) in Belém. Within these commitments, the company renovated the Oiapoque Airport and built the CRD in the location approved by Ibama.
In September 2022, Ibama informed that the only outstanding issue for conducting the Pre-Operational Assessment would be the presentation of the operating license for the Fauna Rehabilitation Center in Belém and inspections of the drilling rig and supporting vessels.
2 - Technical studies confirm that, in the remote event of a leak, there is no possibility of oil reaching the coast.
In January 2023, the environmental agency ratified the approval of the oil dispersion model prepared by the company, carried out based on the Term of Reference issued by Ibama. The model indicates that there is no probability of oil ever reaching the Brazilian coast.

3 - Ibama has already recognized that there is no legal basis for demanding the carrying out of the Environmental Assessment of Sedimentary Areas (AAAS in the Portuguese acronym) as a condition for issuing the operating license for drilling.
In Ibama's January 2023 opinion, the agency reported that “There are no legal instruments to justify the recommendation not to issue environmental licenses for exploratory drilling until a strategic environmental assessment is carried out – such as the AAAS.”
4 - Ibama stated in a technical opinion that Petrobras' emergency response plan is robust.
On 02/15/23, Ibama's technical team stated that “The conceptual emergency plan for the drilling activity in Block FZA-M-59 is in line with the technical team's requests. It has demonstrated to have options for tools, prior communication/articulation with potentially affected countries and options for appropriate response techniques to the foreseen accidental scenarios.”
5 - Ibama inspected and approved the Belém Fauna Depetrolization and Rehabilitation Center in February 2023
Fauna assistance response time in the event of a leak meets the requirements established in the Ibama Best Practices Manual for handling fauna affected by oil. Petrobras also made speed boats available to reduce assistance time.
6 - The license in question is restricted to the drilling of a well with the aim of verifying the existence or not of an oil deposit on the Equatorial Margin
The licensing process for block FZA-M-59 followed the entire requirement rite defined in federal legislation, especially MMA Ordinance No. 422/2011, which provides for procedures for the federal environmental licensing of oil and natural gas exploration and production activities. According to this Ordinance, licensing is carried out per activity, namely, seismic, drilling and production, with no anticipated assessment of impacts of future activities on the licensing in question (drilling activity).
Therefore, only after drilling this well will the potential of the asset, the existence and profile of any deposit be confirmed. Petrobras only applied for the license to drill the well and presented all the necessary studies and projects required. In case of confirmation of the reserve’s potential, the company will apply for another license.
Finally, Petrobras was surprised by Ibama's denial, without even allowing the simulation to carry out a field assessment of the effectiveness of the response plans presented by Petrobras.

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