Brazil's environmental agency (Ibama) rejected Tuesday the application for a license to drill in the mouth of the Amazon Basin by the French company Total (operating in a joint venture with BP). This is an important step towards defending the Amazon Reef; a unique and largely unexplored ecosystem—Total's closest block is only 8km away from the reef.
In a statement published Tuesday, Ibama's president, Suely Araujo, said that Total had not provided adequate information about the environmental impact of the project, making it impossible to grant the license. The company admits in their own Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) that there is a 30 percent probability of oil reaching the reef in case of a spill.
Among the many flaws on Total´s Environmental Impact Assessment, Ibama listed, the oil dispersion modeling and potential cross border risks to French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela and Caribbean archipelagos. The note also highlights the lack of information about possible impacts to the welfare of mammals, turtles and birds that live in the region.
The company still has another chance to send additional documentation as requested by Ibama. "This will be the third and last time that the agency is willing to allow Total to provide adequate information about the environmental impact of the project. If Total does not adequately address the outstanding requests from the technical team, the licensing process will be finally archived," said Suely Araujo, Ibama's president.
"After two years and multiple unanswered questions, Total has failed to meet the demands of the regulator, Ibama," Helena Spiritus, Greenpeace Brazil energy campaigner, said. "They have shown they are incompetent and not fit to drill anywhere near the Amazon Reef. Ibama shouldn't give them another chance to threaten this precious ecosystem."
She continued, "The only right decision by Total now is to give up their plans to drill at the Amazon mouth, instead of trying to find ways to convince authorities to approve this risky project, rejected by science, local communities and by the Brazilian environmental agency."
More than 1.2 million of people all around the world have called Total and BP to cancel their plans to drill for oil near the Amazon Reef.