Berliner Tageblatt - Brazil's Lula defends oil exploration near Amazon River

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Brazil's Lula defends oil exploration near Amazon River
Brazil's Lula defends oil exploration near Amazon River / Photo: © AFP

Brazil's Lula defends oil exploration near Amazon River

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Wednesday that a controversial offshore oil exploration plan near the mouth of the Amazon River was a key opportunity for the country's growth.

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"We want everything to be legal, respecting the environment. But we are not going to let any opportunity to promote the growth of this country pass us by," Lula said in Rio de Janeiro to investors from Saudi Arabia -- one of the world's leading oil producers.

Plans to explore for oil in an offshore basin near the mouth of the Amazon River have angered environmentalists and divided the Lula administration.

His own environment minister, Marina Silva, is openly opposed to the plan, and the IBAMA environmental protection agency denied the oil giant Petrobras an exploration license in May last year.

However, newly-appointed Petrobras boss Magda Chambriard stated last month that she wanted to "accelerate" oil exploration, including in the controversial area near the mouth of the Amazon River, known as the Equatorial Margin.

Environmentalists highlight the contradiction in Lula's defense of fossil fuel exploration while he positions himself as a leading figure in the fight against global warming.

Under his leadership, deforestation in the Amazon rainforest halved last year compared to 2022.

Brazil will host the UN climate conference COP30 next year in Belem, a city in northern Brazil seen as the gateway to the Amazon.

"COP30 will be decisive for the planet. Without everyone's efforts, global warming could reach catastrophic levels," Lula said on Wednesday, recalling the devastation wrought by historic floods in southern Brazil last month.

A.Gasser--BTB