Petrobras Expects Cacimbas-Catu EIS Approval in March

Brazil's federal energy company Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) expects to obtain approval from federal environmental protection agency Ibama in March for its environmental impact study (EIS) of the Cacimbas-Catu stretch of the 1,400km Gasene gas pipeline, newspaper Valor Econômico reported.

Petrobras has also filed for authorization from Brazil's hydrocarbons regulator ANP for the construction of the Cacimbas-Catu and Cabiúnas-Vitória stretches, the company said.

ANP needs to approve each stretch of the project separately before it can be built. The Cacimbas-Catu is the longest of the three pipeline sections topping 900km.

The 300km Cabiúnas-Vitória stretch is already fully licensed but Petrobras has yet to resubmit its EIS to Ibama for the Cacimbas-Catu stretch.

"Petrobras had filed the EIS for the project but because it didn't comply with our basic licensing guidelines, we asked the company to adjust it," an Ibama spokesperson told BNamericas. "This was on December 6, now the ball is in their court."

Petrobras officials could not immediately comment on the licensing process.

So far only the 128km Vitória-Cacimbas stretch has started construction, although a consortium of Spanish companies have abandoned the work alleging financial problems, which has forced Petrobras to seek new contractors.

The Gasene pipeline will link Brazil's southeastern region to the northeastern region and is considered essential to expand the supply of natural gas to the northeastern region. Gasene is scheduled to be fully operational by 2008.

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