Sunday, August 03, 2008

Brazil Starts to Plan How to Use Its New-Found Oil Riches

Brazil's minister of Planning, Paulo Bernardo, confirmed that the Brazilian government intends to change the current regulations and the model in effect in the country for the petroleum sector. "We want a change. Now, what the change is going to be, it is too early to tell," stated the minister, during a meeting with businessmen in Rio de Janeiro.

The commission for studying alternatives for the oil discoveries in the pre-salt layer, of which Paulo Bernardo is a member, should start meeting next week. A proposal should be forwarded to the Presidency of the Republic within 90 days.

During a meeting promoted by the Brazilian Sales and Marketing Directors Association (ADVB), the minister said that there is going to be a substantial rise in revenues from pre-salt oil, "because the reserves are very large."

According to him, what needs to be defined is how to use these revenues wisely. "Are we just going to spend it on everyday things, or are we going to make them into a means for funding the future of the country," he questioned.

According to the minister, the pre-salt is still a promise, which is about to happen, and it remains to be known whether the petroleum may be explored. He asserted that the government does not wish to export crude oil, it wants to process it domestically, and that the aim is to replace imports.

"That entails a development model that is going to be strengthened with the pre-salt. Which means that we are going to need investment in labor force formation, and in education."

The debate regarding the need to adjust the regulation without changing the Law of Petroleum (# 9,478) for these new technologies, as some analysts claim, is just beginning, stated Paulo Bernardo.

According to him, the discussion started in July 17, during a meeting with president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. "We reached the conclusion that, before conducting a detailed study of the current legislation, any information disclosed would be inconsistent."

Regarding the possibility of establishing a new state-owned company specifically turned to management of the pre-salt, which would compete with Petrobras, the minister of Planning asserted that first it must be defined whether that is the kind of model that the country wants to adopt. "We are not sure about that yet."

Created by a presidential decree on the 17th this month, the commission for studying alternatives for oil discoveries in the pre-salt layer is comprised of five ministers, plus the presidents of the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) and the National Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuel Agency (ANP).

Brazil Starts to Plan How to Use Its New-Found Oil Riches
Brazzil Magazine, Los Angeles