New oil auction causes Brazilians to rally against offshore exploration
Newscast Media RIO DE JANEIRO—Brazilians have rallied in the port city of Rio de Janeiro to protest against a government auction that grants state-run petroleum company Petrobras the right to develop an oil field.
Protesters marched on the headquarters of Petrobras on Monday, after the oil consortium – consisting of Petrobras, Shell, Total and two Chinese firms – won the right to explore a massive offshore oilfield that could contain 12 billion barrels of oil near Rio de Janeiro.
Peaceful demonstrators have been calling for the nationalization of Brazil’s oil industry, as well as the cancellation of the auction.
The oil consortium was the only bid made at the auction consisting of 10 other participants, the government said.
Petrobras holds a 40 percent stake in the consortium, with Shell and Total each accounting for 20 percent and Chinese firms CNOOC and CNPC holding 10 percent each.
The protest comes as 90 percent of employees at Petrobras participated in a strike last week, affecting 42 oil platforms and a number of refineries.
40,000 Petrobras employees are further demanding a wage increase as well as changes to company plans to contract out some of its services to private entities.
Critics also highlighted the slowing economy and delays in exploiting offshore oil as trends that would loosen rules to favor more businesses during the next two to three
Despite mounting opposition, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said the deal is an economic opportunity for Brazil.
“The great wealth that was deep in our sea, and was recently discovered, starts to awake. It awakens bringing more resources, more jobs, technology, sovereignty, and, above all, more future to Brazil and to all Brazilians,” Rousseff said.
Brazil has recently discovered billions of barrels of oil in offshore reserves – mostly in deep, pre-salt fields off its southeast coast – though technological hurdles pose significant challenges in reaching the stores.
Source: Press TV