What is your unusual superpower
economy : On the way to becoming a superpower
Rio de Janeiro - In front of the Windsor Hotel in Rio de Janeiro, the army fought street battles with demonstrators, inside journalists jostled to find out about one of the most important decisions for Brazil's future: who is allowed to exploit the gigantic "Libra" oil field in the Atlantic where Brazil will become an oil superpower? Magda Chambriard, head of the state oil agency ANP, announced the result in a hoarse voice. The contract goes to an unusual consortium: The oil companies Shell (English-Dutch) and Total (French) hold 20 percent each, and the state-owned Chinese companies CNPC and CNOOC each hold ten percent. The semi-state Petrobras is represented with 40 percent.
Actually, the Brazilians wanted to auction the oil field discovered in 2007. But in the end there was only one interested party. Neither the US oil giants Exxon Mobil, Chevron nor BP had shown any interest; the Spanish Repsol had recently withdrawn, as did companies from India, Colombia, Malaysia and Japan.
It may have been due to the narrow room for maneuver and the forced marriage with Petrobras: The winning consortium has to pay five billion euros to the state when the contract is signed and give it 41.6 percent of the funding. There will also be a specially established supervisory authority. The strict rules indicate the strategic importance that “Libra” has for Brazil. It is located 183 kilometers off the coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro and at 1,500 square kilometers is one of the world's largest oil fields discovered in the last 20 years. It is said to contain up to twelve billion barrels (159 liters each). That would almost double the country's oil reserves.
But “Libra” is not an isolated case. It is one of a number of oil fields that are six kilometers deep off Brazil's southern Atlantic coast. Up to 100 billion barrels of oil are believed to be there. “Libra” was the first oil field in this series, so the auction was a model.
Brazil's nationalist left and the FUP oil workers' union therefore demanded that the Petrobras should promote the "Libra" oil alone. In protest against foreign participation (and to underline the demand for higher wages) the FUP is on strike on numerous funding platforms. In front of the auction hotel she protested under the Petrobras founding slogan “O petróleo é nosso!” - “The oil is ours!” There is particular fear that the oil-thirsty Chinese will participate. The People's Republic is the largest oil consumer after the USA and buys 5.5 million barrels every day to keep its economy going.
But experts doubt that the Petrobras could even extract the fresh oil without help. Oil agency boss Chambriard put the necessary investments only for the "Libra" field at 35 billion euros. Twelve to 18 platforms would have to be built in the sea, supported by 60 to 90 ships.
The income that the state expects during the exploitation over 35 years will amount to more than 300 billion euros. President Dilma Rousseff spoke of a “ticket to the future” and promised to put a large part of the money into the ailing education system. After the auction, she replied by televised address to the critics: “85 percent of the profits will be ours. That has nothing to do with privatization. "
With its new oil fields, Brazil has been independent of imports for decades. There is no emergency plan for accidents and a possible oil spill. It would more than double its carbon dioxide emissions by using the reserves. Philipp Lichterbeck
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