In the latest round of bids for oil and gas exploration blocks held this month by the Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP), there was no bid for the Camamu-Almada and Jacuípe region in the national park.
An almost disconcerting silence marked the bidding for the gas and oil extraction blocks offered in the Camamu-Almada and Jacuípe areas, in the Abrolhos Marine National Park region, during the 16th Bidding Round on October 10th, promoted by ANP in Rio de Janeiro. No oil company was interested in offering a proposal for the areas, which was also the case for the blocks in Pernambuco-Paraíba, another area of the park exposed to risk.
According to Décio Oddone, general director of ANP, the Northeastern blocks, however, should be permanently open to bids, which still implies that Abrolhos may face pressure from oil companies in the future. The bids were made by 11 companies for the completion of 12 drilling blocks, which correspond to a significant area of 11,762 km2, an area larger than the country of Qatar.
Activists from Arayara, Coesus, Associação Homens e Mulheres do Mar da Baía da Guanabara (AHOMAR), the Union of Fishermen of Guanabara Bay, Extinction Rebellion and 350.org Brazil held a peaceful demonstration in front of the hotel in Rio de Janeiro where the bidding took place, warning of the risks to artisanal fishermen, in addition to biodiversity and regional tourism. This campaign was supported by 50,000 people who signed the #SalveAbrolhos petition to call for an end to fossil fuel exploration in the marine park. You can still add your name to the call by signing here (link in Portuguese).
Dependence on fossil fuels is responsible for climate change, wars, political conflicts, pollution, corruption and death. We have to break the paradigms that still place us in the use of 19th century energy. The time has come to change.
Alexandre Anderson de Souza, 49, president of AHOMAR, warns that for artisanal fishermen the risks imposed by oil and gas extraction are real and considerable. “For a year, we were in contact with the artisanal fishermen of Caravelas, Alcobaça and Nova Viçosa [areas near the park]. We know what that wonder of the National Park is. More than 55,000 families are in danger, in addition to the environment and its biodiversity.”
Energy transition: but when?
The energy transition is already underway. Brazil has an energy matrix that still has a considerable share of liquid hydrocarbons, like oil, coal and the growing presence of natural gas and bio-renewables. There needs to be a just transition to community-led renewable energy in the coming years.
The Brazilian government continues to do a great disservice to its own citizens and to the global population in continuing to prioritize fossil fuel projects in the Abrolhos basins and beyond. The capacity of the earth to absorb greenhouse gas emissions released by this type of activity has already been depleted. The only way we can minimize the effects of the climate crisis is to protect our territories and commit to investing in 100% renewable, clean, fair and free energy sources.
An accident would affect more than 55,000 families
The region has the largest marine biodiversity in the South Atlantic, with approximately 1,300 species, 45 of which are considered endangered. The Park’s conservation and protection contributes to the livelihood of about 20,000 people and fishing in the areas surrounding the park generates $100 million per year, representing 10% of the total revenue for fishing in Brazil.
According to Luiz Afonso Rosário, a consultant to 350.org Brazil specialised in traditional communities, an oil spill in the region could harm at least 55,000 families who depend on traditional subsistence fishing.
The next round of bidding is scheduled for November 6, when the areas of exploration in Atapu, Búzios, ltapu and Sépia, in the Santos Basin will be offered. You can still object to fossil fuel exploration in the park today. Add your name here.