After the failure of the National Petroleum Agency (ANP) auction of oil, gas and biofuel blocks, which took place on October 7, where only 5 of the 92 blocks were auctioned, the remaining ones are on permanent offer, which means they are in continuous availability, posing an “eternal threat” to a fragile, rich, and lush marine and island ecosystem.
In the view of the federal government, the difficulty in selling in some areas was associated with pressure from environmentalists. This is the case of the Potiguar Basin, in northeastern Brazil, whose exploration could impact the biodiversity of the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, in Pernambuco, and the Atol das Rocas, in Rio Grande do Norte.
“The Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, and also the Atol das Rocas, which are conservation units that are within the oil auction areas, are biodiversity ‘hotspots’ and it is where we find several endemic species, which are species that they only occur in Brazil”, says biologist and researcher residing in Noronha Gislaine Lima.
“Even if companies that one day want to buy these lots say that the impacts will be mitigated, they will be controlled, if there is a spill, it is impossible for you to control all the impacts”, explains the specialist.
Despite the oceanic islands being considered World Natural Heritage sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) since 2001, the federal government did not even carry out environmental impact studies before opening the auction.
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“When you are going to submit any area to the auction process, you have to identify the characteristics of the area; if the area is sensitive from the point of view of nature conservation, it is necessary to carry out prior analyzes and in the case of offshore areas, there is a need for an analysis to study the need for drilling, earthquakes and the impact that this can cause the ecosystem, and this was not done”, analyzes José Bertotti, Pernambuco’s Environment and Sustainability Secretary.
Bertotti complements by stating that “If the auction takes place, it is sold there and, if it happens, which is very likely, an environmental damage, it is irreparable and has no cost. So, it is necessary to fulfill the entire rite”. The Government of the State of Pernambuco, political parties and environmental institutes filed a lawsuit against the auction with the Supreme Court (STF), which is still in progress.
Pernambuco was one of the states that suffered from the oil spill that hit several beaches in the Northeast in 2019 and, until today, two years later, it still suffers from the impacts of the spill, without anyone being held responsible. “We are going to remain very vigilant regarding this issue, because we lived a tragic experience. Pernambuco does not produce oil, Pernambuco does not have oil royalties, but we had to clean the oil, which was not taken off the coast of Pernambuco”, analyzes the secretary.
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As the Potiguar Basin block can be purchased at any time, movements and organizations that defend the Environment must continue to be constantly vigilant. “If they keep on auctioning, we’ll keep pushing. We are not alone, we are together with the community, we are together with environmental agencies. So, we continue to defend the environment, because this is our flag”, assures the biologist.
Source: BoF Pernambuco
Edition: Vanessa Gonzaga