Last Wednesday, Brazil’s environmental agency, Ibama, refused to grant a license to the state-run oil company Petrobras to drill at the mouth of the Amazon River (AP News). As its existing production is set to peak in the next few years, Petrobras has focused on securing additional reserves along Brazil’s northern coast—an area that oil companies have seen as a new frontier for years (Reuters). 

The region is a unique and biodiverse area home to Indigenous lands, mangroves, a coral reef, and endangered species (Bloomberg). Petrobras designated almost half of its $6 billion exploration budget to assess the region. Ibama noted that the project “presents worrisome inconsistencies for the safe operation in a new exploratory frontier with high socio-environmental vulnerability” (AP News). 

Eighty environmental and other citizen organizations had called on Ibama to reject the license until an in-depth study is conducted, and are now celebrating the decision. “The decision in this case gives cause for a broader debate about the role of oil in the country’s future. It is time to establish a calendar to eliminate fossil fuels and accelerate the just transition for oil exporting countries, such as Brazil, and not open a new exploration frontier,” Suely Araújo, a policy specialist with Climate Observatory and former head of Ibama, stated (AP News).