Anchored in shallow, cloudy waters just a few hundred yards from the mangrove swamps that dominate this wild and empty coastline, the fishermen rolled in their nets. The three men had spent 5 days at sea, and their catch glittered on the deck.
“It’s good fishing,” said Cleyton Celeiro, 26, who feeds his wife and two children with money earned on trips to the Amapá state coast, on the far north-eastern corner of the Amazon. “It’s beautiful; I like it. I’m proud to be a fisherman.”
But the bucolic peace is threatened by two of the world’s biggest oil companies’ plans to start drilling a hundred miles or so out to sea. This alarms Celeiro.
“If there is a leak, it will kill all the fish. It will be very bad for us,” he said.
Not all fishermen share his concerns. As he maneuvered his tiny boat to a waterside gas station in Oiapoque, the nearest town, Maxibreno de Nazaré, 20, said drilling would mean a ready supply of cheaper fuel, not realizing that crude oil would be refined elsewhere.
“If you say money, nobody cares about a leak,” he said.
This dishevelled and sleepy town of 25,000 on Brazil’s border with French Guiana, 250 miles north of the Amazon’s mouth, has become the latest frontline in a global battle between oil companies pushing for new reserves and environmentalists who argue the oil should be left in the ground.
While some countries are backing away from fossil fuels, Brazil is heading in the opposite direction. Its business-friendly government encourages international oil companies to invest here and advocates development in protected Amazon areas.
BP and Total are among several companies who bought exploration rights in the mouth of the Amazon basin in a 2013 tender. If environmental licences are approved, drilling could start as soon as next year.
But environmentalists say this area is too sensitive to risk.
The 2,500-sq-mile Cabo Orange national park where Celeiro was fishing is home to protected species such as the Amazon manatee and the small-tooth sawfish. An enormous coral reef system was only recently confirmed near drilling areas and filmed and photographed for the first time this year by a Greenpeace boat. Plankton in the seas the companies plan to drill in absorb huge quantities of carbon dioxide, helping reduce global warming.
Read the full story here.
Don't miss our latest HSE content, delivered to your inbox twice monthly. Sign up for the HSE Now newsletter. If you are not logged in, you will receive a confirmation email that you will need to click on to confirm you want to receive the newsletter.
10 Nov 2019
- Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Safety Leadership focuses on the ‘Human Factors’ (HF) which complement technical training to optimize reliability, safety, compliance, efficiency and risks within a team-based environment.
9 - 11 Nov 2019
- Abu Dhabi, UAE
The programme combines expert input, case studies, and immersive scenarios from the E&P and other industries to embed your learning and enable you to progress to the next level of your career.
11 - 12 Sep 2019
- Bakersfield, California, USA
Combine engineering with computer programming in this 2-day course
3 Oct 2019
- Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Being Human - reserve your place at this one-day course
3 - 4 Oct 2019
- Calgary, Alberta, Canada
For a better understanding of geomechanical factors, attend this course
HSE Now is a source for news and technical information affecting the health, safety, security, environment, and social responsibility discipline of the upstream oil and gas industry.
©2003-2019 Society of Petroleum Engineers, All Rights Reserved.