Environmentalists all over the globe are concerned that the Brazilian Amazon, one of the last untouched areas of the world's largest wilderness will be spoiled by oil prospection. Brazil has announced plans to search for oil and natural gas in the country's remote western Amazon.
Brazil's National Petroleum Agency, ANP, plans to invest an estimated US$ 30 million to look for oil and gas in Acre, an Amazon state bordering Bolivia, the government news agency Agência Brasil announced Saturday, October 20.
ANP director, Getúlio Silveira Leite, told a congressional committee that the work in Acre is part a broader push to find oil in the Amazon, according to the official news agency.
"We must increase research in the region to discover the petroleum potential of the nine Amazon states," Silveira Leite said.
But environmental officials said no study had been done to assess how the search will affect the Amazon. The region covers some 4 million square kilometers (1,544 sq miles) but its natural resources are under constant pressure from loggers, miners and farmers.
"It's necessary to examine how this will be done, on what scale and in what areas," said João Paulo Capobianco, the Environment Ministry's executive secretary. "In theory, there are methodologies and technologies that allow this activity without environmental damage."
The Acre state Federation of Industries has endorsed the project, but some in the region question whether the government will take care to preserve the environment.
"Development brings damage," Acre congressman Marcelo Serafim said. "It destroyed the Atlantic forest, it ruined much of the Pantanal (wetlands), and that's not what we want or defend."
But Serafim added: "If the Brazilian government and the world want the Amazon preserved, the world has to give us conditions to preserve the Amazon. And it hasn't."
Brazilian government managed oil company Petrobras currently produces oil and gas in the Amazon city of Coari. The federal government is also building a pipeline through the rainforest to carry the gas to the Amazonas capital of Manaus, a city of 1.5 million.