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Brazil wants more information from Total for Foz do Amazonas drilling

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Staff Writer | August 29, 2017
Brazil's environmental regulator Ibama said that it needs more information about how Total will curb environmental risks of drilling in the Foz do Amazonas basin or it will suspend the French oil firm's license application.
Foz do Amazonas
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Ibama's repeated refusals to accept Total's environmental study has held up the company's four-year quest to explore the offshore basin, an area some geologists say could contain up to 14 billion barrels of petroleum, or more than the entire proven reserves in the Gulf of Mexico.

Total led a group including BP and Petrobras in buying five exploration blocks in the basin in 2013, but the discovery of a massive coral reef just 28 kilometers from the blocks has thrown environmental approvals for drilling into doubt.

Ibama said in a statement it has already requested information from Total three times.

"In the case the company does not meet the points demanded by the technical team one more time, the licensing process will be archived," it said, meaning any decision on Total's drilling proposal could be suspended indefinitely.

Concerns the agency says must be addressed include how to limit impact on marine mammals and turtles, clarification of models for how oil in the water would disperse itself, and Ibama's initial rejection of Total's proposals for environmental monitoring and other projects.

Oil leaks in the Foz do Amazonas basin, named for its location near the mouth of the Amazon river, could wreak havoc on the rainforest in Brazil's far northern Amapa state in addition to harming the reef, scientists and activists say.