Halcrow Prepares Environment Study to Facilitate Licensing

UK-based Halcrow Group is preparing an environmental assessment of the three main oil basins in Brazil, with a view to making the licensing process more transparent, efficient and faster, Halcrow Brazil representative Pablo Cotsifis told BNamericas.

The project is being prepared for the environment ministry, the federal environment agency Ibama, federal energy company Petrobras, and oil regulator ANP, he said. Focusing on the Campos, Espirito Santo and Santos basins, the project has three main goals, Cotsifis said. The first is to prepare a software database that crosses physical information with environmental licensing legislation to provide accurate details before companies purchase exploration concessions and a faster process for approving licensing requests, he said. This combination of environmental data will allow Ibama to have clearer idea of the sensitivity and risk associated with specific exploration concessions, he said.

The second objective is to draw up a series of proposals for improving exploration and production environmental legislation, for which Halcrow has brought in Brazilian law firm Dannemann Siemsen Meio Ambiente Consultores, Cotsifis said. Existing legislation used to evaluate oil projects is confusing, Danneman lawyer Paulo de Bessa Antunes told BNamericas, adding that this damages the environment and companies at the same time. The proposals should be ready for presenting to Halcrow and its customers in the government within three or four months, he said. It would unify existing legislation and resolve some of the discrepancies, without making the existing standards any tougher or softer, Bessa said. "There are some contradictory points in the norms that regulate the activity in Brazil, situations which are not dealt with and confusion over the administrative jurisdiction of various organs," Bessa said. This creates legal uncertainties that can be translated into higher costs for investors, he said.

The third and final objective is the development of an environmental management plan for the three basins, Halcrow's Cotsifis said. This requires setting up a system for how and when to monitor the environment, as well as setting the indicators such as quality of water, he explained. The project began in April 2002 and should be completed by the end of this year, or early January, Cotsifis said. Further information on the projects can be seen atGabo

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