Brazil will likely end up exploring the Equatorial Margin for oil but state-run Petrobras should adopt a "cautious" approach given the need for precautions to protect the environment, Finance Minister Fernando Haddad said on Sunday.
The Equatorial Margin is some 2,200 kilometers (1,370 miles) of deepwater and ultra-deepwater assets along Brazil's northern and northeastern coast.
"We may need oil from the Equatorial Margin on the condition that Petrobras take environmental precautions and Petrobras is very willing to consider this," said Haddad in a televised interview.
"It's a biodiversity sanctuary there, we have to take care of it, it has spectacular resources," he said.
Brazil's environmental agency Ibama has previously denied Petrobras a license to carry out exploratory studies in the region. It said a study presented by the oil company prepared during the last government was incomplete and did not address several environmental protection issues.
Petrobras has appealed, but Ibama has yet to respond.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has also said in a recent interview that the area could be explored.
"Brazil will not stop researching the Equatorial Margin. If it finds the wealth that it believes exists there, it's up to the state to decide whether or not to exploit it," he said during a trip to India.
Haddad also noted Petrobras recently announced investments of 100 billion reais ($20.5 billion) in wind energy.
($1 = 4.8679 reais)
(Reuters - Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Steven Grattan; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)