Greenpeace launches campaign against oil exploration off Brazil

The environmentalist group, Greenpeace, has launched a new campaign in Brazil with an aim to protect the newly discovered Amazon Reef from oil exploration. 

In the far north of Brazil, where the Amazon River meets the sea, there is a coral reef whose discovery was announced by a group of scientists in April 2016.

Greenpeace stated on Thursday that the reef may soon be “threatened by oil exploration.” According to the group, the reef is massive with about 9,500 square kilometers of formations including giant sponges and calcareous algae, called rhodolith.

The scientists believe that the Amazon reef, which spans from from Brazil to the border with French Guiana, could be a new marine biome, the group further claimed.

“However, this unique treasure is already under threat. The mouth of the Amazon River is the next frontier for  oil exploration in Brazilian waters. Oil companies Total and BP want to start exploratory drilling in the area. One of the blocks of oil owned by Total is just eight kilometers from the reef, making drilling there risky business and the environmental licensing processes are already underway,” the group said.

The organization further added that drilling there means an imminent and constant risk of an oil spill, which is a threat not only to the reef, but to the ecosystem of the basin of the Amazon River mouth.

“This area is a crucial habitat for the American manatee, the yellow-spotted Amazon river turtle, and the giant river otter—species that are already at some risk of extinction, according to the 2014 International Union for Conservation of Nature List,” Greenpeace said.

As a result, the environmentalist group is embarking on an expedition with its ship Esperanza to explore the reef in an effort to protect the reef as well as the Amazon River mouth. The group is demanding that the oil companies present in the area give up the oil exploration there.

In May 2013, the French oil company Total was awarded a permit to carry out exploration drilling in five blocks, the FZA-M-57, FZA-M-86, FZA-M-88, FZA-M-125 and FZA-M-127, located in the Foz do Amazonas basin off Brazil.

In early January 2017, Total announced the start of its operations in the basin after it received the first equipment to be used for exploration drilling there thus marking the beginning of operational mobilization in the region. While the company has until 2020 to drill the first well in the area, the plan is to drill the first well in 2017.

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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