World’s highest-earning oil auction blighted by crude spill

Brazil tackles worst environmental ‘attack’ in its history, as Rio prepares for $25bn oil auction

As Brazil continues to tackle its crude spill, Rio prepares for one of the world’s highest-earning oil auctions.

Since early September the mysterious oil spill has blighted thousands of kilometers of beaches in north-east Brazil. Nine states have been cleaning the thick sludge from their shores, with more than 1,000 tonnes removed so far.

It is not known where the oil has come from. The Brazilian environment ministry said they are “certain” the oil is from Venezuela, after the state-run oil company Petrobras analysed the spill, narrowing its origins down to three Venezuelan oil fields. However, the government of Venezuela says the accusation is “unfounded”.

With the origins of the spill under dispute, it raises concerns about whether the Brazilian government is able to regulate its fast-growing oil industry.

The Transfer of Rights oil auction is expected to attract $25bn of foreign investment. But the spill could deter major global oil companies, who want to dissociate themselves from what Petrobras chief executive Roberto Castello Branco described as the worst environmental “attack” in the country’s history.

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However, Mines and Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque said the spill should have no impact on the auction. Speaking at an industry event in Rio de Janeiro he said he did not see any “cause and effect relationship” between the environmental disaster and expected bids.

“This oil which was found on the beaches of the north-east is not of Brazilian origin, so it has nothing to do with oil and gas activity in Brazil, nothing to do with oil and gas auctions,” he said.

The Brazilian government has been criticised for it’s slow response with local residents and volunteers cleaning up the oil themselves; many using their bare hands. However, Albuquerque said that the government is doing “everything it can” to handle the crisis.

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