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Oil Drilling Project Near Mouth of Amazon River Rejected by Brazil’s Environmental Regulator

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s environmental regulator has rejected a license for a controversial offshore oil drilling project near the mouth of the Amazon River that had drawn strong opposition from activists who warned of its potential for damaging the area.

The agency’s president, Rodrigo Agostinho, highlighted environmental concerns in announcing the decision Wednesday evening to turn down the state-run oil company Petrobras’ request to drill the FZA-M-59 block. He cited “a group of technical inconsistencies” in the company’s application.

With Brazil’s existing production set to peak in coming years, Petrobras has sought to secure more reserves off Brazil’s northern coast. The company earmarked almost half its five-year, $6 billion exploration budget for the area, and in a statement Thursday said it would file an official request that the decision be reconsidered.

CEO Jean Paul Prates had said that the first well would be temporary and that the company has never recorded a leak in offshore drilling. The company failed to convince the environmental agency.

“There is no doubt that Petrobras was offered every opportunity to remedy critical points of its project, but that it still presents worrisome inconsistencies for the safe operation in a new exploratory frontier with high socioenvironmental vulnerability,” Agostinho wrote in his decision.

The unique and biodiverse area is home to little-studied swaths of mangroves and a coral reef, and activists and experts had said the project risked leaks that could be carried widely by tides and imperil the sensitive environment.

Eighty civil society and environmental organizations, including WWF Brasil and Greenpeace, had called for the license to be rejected pending an in-depth study.

Source : AP News