July 16, 2024

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Brazil environment minister demands ‘ceiling’ on oil production

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Brazil must consider capping oil production and exploration, the country’s environment minister has said, casting her in opposition to the government’s own plans of turning the nation into one of the biggest crude producers by 2029.

“One issue that will have to be faced is the issue of limits, a ceiling for oil exploration. It is a debate that is not easy but that oil-producing countries will have to face,” Marina Silva told the Financial Times.

Her comments reflect a tension in President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s efforts to play both sides of the climate debate — burnishing Brazil’s environmental credentials in protecting the crucial ecology of the Amazon, while supporting oil drilling for its economic benefits. The energy ministry has set a goal of increasing output from 3mn barrels a day last year to 5.4mn by the end of the decade.

Born in the Amazon rainforest and raised by impoverished rubber tappers, the 65-year-old Silva is today among the world’s most respected environmentalists. Her appointment as minister earlier this year by President Lula was hailed as a symbol of Brazil’s commitment to ecological protection and the green transition.

But her mission faces obstacles even within the leftwing administration, notably from the energy ministry and state-controlled Petrobras, which are both hoping to harness new giant offshore fields to increase crude output.

The energy plan would make Brazil the world’s fourth-largest producer, ahead of Iran, Canada and Kuwait. Earlier this month, the country joined the Opec+ group — which comprises the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries plus its allies — although Lula has insisted its status will remain that of an observer.

“Brazil is an oil producer. This is a debate that will have to be had, even in the context of wars. We are committed to the goal of tripling…

2023-12-26 00:00:05

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