Brazilian Regulator Rejects El Paso Application

Brazilianenvironmental regulator IBAMA on Sept. 15 said it would not grant an exploration license to El Paso Oil and Gas in Brazil Ltda.,  to explore the Pinaúna oil and gas field, Block BM-CAL-4, in the Camamu/Almada Basin, in the shallow waters, located 11.3 km off the island of Boipeba, Bahia.

While Ibama agreed that, since the submission of Environmental Impact Studies (EIA) in 2005, the company made successive revisions of the project. However, technical evaluations by more than 25 environmental analysts specializing in oil and gas licensing concluded that the company failed to minimize the environmental impacts and risks of exploration plans to make it compatible with high environmental sensitivity of the region.

Several endangered species are present in the area which El Paso planned to explore, including the Humpback Whale and Franca Whale, who frequent the area in winter to breed. Five species of sea turtles threatened with extinction also call the area home, and mangroves are found between the islands of Tinharé and Boipeba. The diversity and ecosystem conservation in the region are essential for the development of fishing activities and tourism.

In addition to questions concerning the direct impacts of the project, the project did not present adequate solutions to deal with accident scenarios involving oil spill on the marine environment. “Given its proximity to the coast and sensitive environments, even accidents with release of small and medium volumes of oil (up to 200 m³) - more frequent occurrence of accidents that the worst case - would reach the environmental assets of high ecological importance and could have serious consequences for socioeconomic for coastal communities,” IBAMA said.