Petrobras Contemplates Plan B Amid License Delays for Amazon River Basin Drilling

Image for Illustration Only - ©Donatas Dabravolskas/AdobeStock
Image for Illustration Only - ©Donatas Dabravolskas/AdobeStock

Brazil's Petrobras may move a rig it has installed to drill at the mouth of the Amazon River Basin to another location if it does not obtain a long-awaited environmental license to start operations there, an executive said on Monday.

The remarks from Exploration and Production Executive Director Joelson Mendes come after technical staff at local environmental agency Ibama in April recommended the rejection of Petrobras' request to drill in the area.

"We are ready to drill, but a permit is necessary," Mendes told reporters on the sidelines of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston. "We are waiting for the permission."

Brazil's government will have the final say on the matter, so the company has been saying it will wait for its decision.

Mendes said that if the permission is not granted, the state-run oil giant had the "plan B" of moving the rig to the Potiguar Basin in northeastern Brazil, noting it would be "very easy" to move the rig from one location to another.

"We have an alternative," Mendes said, adding that if the change is made the Pitu Oeste well would be the first one to receive the rig.

Petrobras told Reuters in a statement after Mendes's remarks that it would look to drill the Pitu Oeste and Anhanga wells in the state of Rio Grande do Norte if it fails to obtain the permit.

Those wells, however, would also require Ibama's clearance to be drilled, it added.

(Reuters  - Reporting by Mariana Parraga; Additional reporting by Marta Nogueira in Rio de Janeiro; Editing by Steven Grattan)

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