Brazil’s energy strategy raises climate concerns – DW – 10/11/2023 | EUROtoday

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It’s not way back that town of Itaborai was talked about primarily in connection to Brazil’s gradual financial decline. The industrial metropolis, situated about an hour’s drive from Rio de Janeiro, was on the middle of corruption investigations surrounding the state-owned oil firm Petrobras.

Falling oil costs and the COVID-19 pandemic added to the challenges, and have plunged the once-flourishing industrial hub right into a deep financial melancholy with mass unemployment.

Thiago Rodrigues da Silva from the Sintramon labor union mentioned the state of affairs of the previous 5 years noticed Itaborai as a metropolis “practically in hibernation.”

But now there may be hope, he advised DW, due to the plans of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva who goals to revive and broaden Itaborai as a middle for oil and gasoline manufacturing.

A picture of trade union leader Thiago Rodrigues da Silva
The authorities’s energy plans have the backing of Brazil’s union bosses like Rodriguez da SilvaImage: Tobias Buyer

Oil nation seeks energy independence

Lourival Cabula, Itaborai’s deputy mayor — just like the nation’s president a member of the Workers’ Party (PT) — firmly believes within the “second chance” given to his municipality.

The infrastructure is in place, so all that’s wanted are manageable investments, he advised DW. Lula da Silva’s plan to complete building of two refineries is essential for lowering Brazil’s dependence on oil refineries overseas.

“We want to do it ourselves now, and here in Itaborai, we have all the prerequisites for that,” he mentioned, including that the brand new services can be a significant step towards energy independence.

Union chief Thiago Rodrigues is extra cautious however nonetheless optimistic: “It looks like business is picking up again,” he advised DW.

But it is not solely political leaders that welcome the upgrades for Itaborai. The president of the Brazilian Oil and Gas Institute, Roberto Ardenghy, advised the nation’s enterprise journal Valor lately: “Why not expand the refinery complex and transform Brazil into a country with more refining capacity? Such investments are essential to avoid supply shortages, especially in diesel fuel.”

A closeup picture of mayor Lourival Cabula
Lourival Cabula, Itaborai’s deputy mayor, hopes for a revival of the oil metropolis’s fortunesImage: Tobias Buyer

Fossil-fuel funding a contradiction?

Not everyone seems to be enthusiastic in regards to the authorities’s oil ambitions. Environmentalists are horrified by exploration plans within the Amazon rainforest, accusing Lula da Silva of breaking his promise of defending the area.

As an enormous chunk of Brazil’s deliberate energy investments are earmarked for the fossil-fuel sector, public criticism can also be mounting.

The every day State headlined a current article with: “Petrobras: the last oil producer in the world.” Its columnist Celso Wing wrote that Lula’s energy coverage is filled with “significant contradictions and uncertainties about the energy-transition strategy that could jeopardize the country’s competitive advantage.”

While environmentalists and political leaders, primarily in Europe, are hoping Brazil might turn out to be a significant producer of inexperienced hydrogen, the federal government has launched into a course of increasing fossil-energy output.

Petrobras, the nation’s state-owned oil main, boosted oil manufacturing to past 3 million barrels per day (bpd) in May 2023, from about 2.12 million bpd in March 2016.

A picture that shows workers having a break in a Petrobras refinery plant near Rio de Janeiro,
Boosting Brazil’s oil and gasoline refining capability ought to make the nation extra energy impartialImage: picture-alliance/dpa/W. Rudhart

Hope and optimism in Itaborai

Despite large protests from climate activists, Brazil’s energy coverage must be given a “fair assessment,” mentioned Itaborai’s deputy mayor. “We will work in accordance with international standards. You can rest assured that Brazil will comply with all the rules, and that Lula won’t do what is not allowed [in the oil business],” mentioned Cabula.

Cabula famous that the federal government plans to “strengthen its energy autonomy,” whereas on the identical time making certain Brazil turns into “one of the largest producers of renewable energy in the world” in lower than a decade.

Brazilian’s “shouldn’t pay for the same mistakes again,” he added, referring to the decline of Itaborai’s oil business that noticed motels and companies fold and mass layoffs within the wake of the disaster.

“I really believe in the project,” he mentioned.

Union chief Thiago Rodrigues can also be feeling tailwinds from the funding, with enterprise sentiment “improving” and folks being “more optimistic.”

“I hope that in three or four years, Itaborai will be what it used to be — a large community with a good income situation, and citizens who are proud to work in their city and no longer have to look for work elsewhere.”

This article was initially written in German.

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