Peter Howard Wertheim
RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept. 12 -- A new emphasis on natural gas in Brazilian exploration and production licensing drew criticism during a Rio Oil & Gas panel discussion in Rio de Janeiro.
Paulo Manuel Mendes de Mendonca, executive manager of exploration for Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras), complained that Brazil's eighth licensing round focuses on gas-prone areas and excludes the Campos basin, which accounts for 84% of Brazilian oil production. He also mentioned limits on the number of bids individual companies can make.
He directed his comments to Haroldo Lima, general manager of the National Oil, Natural Gas, and Biofuel Agency (ANP).
"We are following govermental guidelines," Lima responded. "After the nationalization of Bolivia's oil and gas reserves, the government decided to give priority to E&P in gas-prone provinces like Santos and Espirito Santo basins."
Those basins are among seven in which the eighth round on Nov. 28 will offer a total of 284 blocks covering 101,000 sq km. Reports about the area to be offered have varied (OGJ, Aug. 7, 2006, Newsletter).
Brazil imports about half the gas it uses from Bolivia, where President Evo Morales on May 1 announced plans to take over his country's oil and gas fields. Petrobras has been Bolivia's most active foreign producer (OGJ, Aug. 28, 2006, p. 25).
Oil industry officials attending the panel discussion expressed surprise that the independent ANP, in the words of one executive, "now dances to the tune of the federal government."
On a separate issue, Joao Carlos de Luca, president of the Brazilian Petroleum and Gas Institute (IBP), called for quickened environmental licensing of Brazilian oil and gas projects and more resources for the ANP.
Alvaro Teixeira, IBP executive-secretary, predicted that oil and gas investments in Brazil during the next 5 years will total $100 billion and sustain oil self-sufficiency, achieved in May.