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New Oil in Brazil Unleashes a Gusher of Media Controversies

Twisted information about the discovery of what may possibly be the third largest oil field in the world turned into a hot issue on the Brazilian blogosphere this week. The trigger was a comment from the head of Brazil's National Petroleum Agency [ANP], Haroldo Lima, mentioning that the recently found Carioca [or Sugar Loaf] field in Brazil’s offshore Santos Basin could potentially contain reserves of up to 33 billion barrels of oil and gas. The comment was amplified by the media as an official announcement, which caused a wave of excitement through investor markets from Brazil to New York for Petrobrás [Brazil's state-run oil company] and its partners Repsol-YPF and the BG Group.

Petrobras officials quickly reacted saying that 3 months of further drilling would be needed before any meaningful estimate of volumes could be made. Yet, the day-after local media headlines took on the ‘announcement’ as a deliberate act to boost Brazilian markets and Petrobras’ share price, and speculated about the legal consequences the company could face for making such groundless comments. Meanwhile bloggers found a new gusher of opinions in the theme.

Haroldo Lima, diretor da Agência Nacional do Petróleo, negou peremptoriamente que fez qualquer anúncio público com relação ao achado da Bacia de Santos. Ele teria feito uma cogitação embasada por artigos que foram publicados por uma revista americana especializada. Acontece que diretor de um órgão regulador tem palavra de peso não somente no segmento em que atua, mas também no mercado financeiro. Logo, não lhe cabe fazer ilação alguma. O peso da palavra de um gestor na área petrolífera é muito maior que a opinião ou matéria de um jornalista.
O peso da palavra e da responsabilidadeLeandro Vieira

Haroldo Lima, director of National Petroleum Agency, has firmly denied having made any public announcement related to the Santos Basin's find. He would have just made a comment based in articles published in a specialized American magazine. But the word of the director of a regulatory agency has weight not only over the sector regulated by it, but also over financial markets. Therefore it is not his role to make any inference. The weight of the word of an oil sector manager is much bigger than the opinion or an article of a journalist.
The weight of the word and the responsabilityLeandro Vieira

A imprensa, que na sua esmagadora maioria é opositora ao Presidente Luís Inácio Da Silva, o “Lula”, tentou caracterizar como irresponsável Haroldo Lima, e a oposicionista CVM (Comissão De Valores Mobiliários) diz que vai “investigar” Haroldo Lima por ter dado as informações ao público antes da divulgação pela Petrobrás. Foi uma demonstração evidente do despeito, inveja e rancor da direita brasileira com o Presidente Lula. Despeito por tentar desqualificar as afirmações de Haroldo Lima, respeitável homem público brasileiro. A imprensa é tão sórdida que tentou espetacularizar a divulgação do fato, feita esta divulgação em evento fechado, como se Lima tivesse anunciado no coreto da praça com megafone, para todo o população. Na verdade, o fato já era de conhecimento de especialistas em petróleo, e já tinha sido divulgado nos EUA pela revista “World Oil Magazine”.
Imprensa vocifera contraTribuna Petista

The media, which in its overwhelming majority is opposed to the president Luis Inacio da Silva, the “Lula”, has tried to characterize Haroldo Lima as irresponsible, and the oppositionist CVM (Securities and Exchange Commission) says it will “investigate” him for having shared information with the public before an official announcement from Petrobras. That was an evident demonstration of spite, envy and hatred from the Brazilian right against the President Lula. That's what we can translate from the attempt to disqualify the remarks of Haroldo Lima — a respectable public Brazilian figure. In its sordid ways, the media has tried to sensationalize the context of Lima's comments, which were made in a closed event, as if he had made an announcement in a public plaza with a megaphone, aiming to reach the whole population. In fact, the information about the Carioca field was already known by oil specialists, and it had already been reported in the US by the “World Oil Magazine”.
Media roars againstTribuna Petista

O ódio da imprensa, que está contaminando até membros do governo, deriva do fato de que Lima revelou uma grande barriga da mídia tapuia. Uma informação estratégica sobre nossas reservas energéticas, importantíssima, circulava desde fevereiro na imprensa especializada, e a nossa imprensa não sabia de nada. Não noticiava nada. Um erro colossal… O caso dos mega-campos é emblemático. A direita ficou triste! Ficou triste com o fato do Brasil ter encontrado petróleo! Agora, ficou triste e revoltada com o fato do diretor da ANP ter contado o que a imprensa especializada já sabia, que há possibilidade muito concreta do campo Pão de Açúcar ter mais de 30 bilhões de barris e ser a terceira maior reserva do planeta.
Em defesa de Haroldo Lima: a barriga foi da mídiaÓleo do Diabo

The media hatred, which is infecting even members of the government, derives from the fact that Lima has revealed a big failure of the local press. Strategic information about our energy reserves, something hugely important, was circulating since February in the specialized media, and our local outlets were not aware of it. They were not reporting anything about it. What a colossal slip-up… The case of the mega-fields is emblematic. The right has become depressed about it! It has become depressed with the fact that Brazil has found oil! Now, it is depressed and revolted by the fact that ANP's director has shared what the specialized media already knew, that there is a concrete possibility that the Sugar Loaf field contains more than 30 billion barrels and is the third biggest reserve on the planet.
In defense of Haroldo Lima: the media failedÓleo do Diabo


Lula: … tell Petrobras to make up another oil field,
so that I can get away from the latest scandals, heck!!!

It looks like the left-right bickering has once again thwarted media accuracy in reporting important issues, and the blogs are speculating about the hidden agendas in this case. Once again you will find different scripts for the same plot depending on which blog you read, but it is good to mention that the man in case, ANP's director Haroldo Lima, is an historic leader from the left who is particularly known for his activism — he was jailed and tortured by the regime's political police from 1976 to 1979 — through the traumatic period of armed resistance and military dictatorship in Brazil.

Em abril de 2006, o governo torrou 40 milhões de reais para anunciar que o Brasil tinha passado a produzir mais petróleo do que consome. Mas a auto-suficiência não ocorreu até agora. A produção da Petrobras emperrou, o consumo aumentou e o déficit na balança comercial de óleos e derivados voltou a crescer. O rombo em 2008 deve atingir 8 bilhões de dólares. Sobrou pirotecnia também no ano passado, com a descoberta do megacampo de Tupi. À época o governo afirmou que as reservas brasileiras, hoje em 14 bilhões de barris, poderiam subir para 22 bilhões de barris. Mas é extremamente cedo para dizer se ou quando essas reservas poderão ser exploradas. Na semana passada, dados referentes à Petrobras foram novamente usados para alimentar pirotecnias políticas. Haroldo Lima, diretor-geral da Agência Nacional do Petróleo (ANP), declarou que a Petrobras havia descoberto uma megajazida petrolífera na Bacia de Santos.
Governo mente sobre a PetrobrásBlog do Briguilino

On April 2006, the government wasted 40 million reais to announce that Brazil had started to produce more oil than it consumes. But the bragged-about self-sufficiency has not happened until now. Petrobrás’ production has stalled, the usage has increased and the short-fall of the oil's commercial balance has started to grow once again. The red numbers in 2008 may reach 8 billion dollars. There were fireworks also last year, to announce the discovery of the Tupi mega-field. At the time, the government declared that the Brazilian reserves, that reach today 14 billion barrels, could add up to 22 billion barrels. But it is extremely early to say if or when those reserves will be in fact explored. Last week, some data related to Petrobras was again used to feed political pyrotechnics. Haroldo Lima, National Petroleum Agency's [ANP] general director has declared that Petrobras found a mega-field at Santos Basin.
Governo mente sobre a PetrobrásBlog do Briguilino

É possível que alguns especuladores tenham ganho dinheiro com a informação que ele fez PÚBLICA e ABERTAMENTE. Mas esses especuladores ganham de qualquer maneira. Se o fato não se confirmar, vendem e ganham novamente. Haroldo Lima não tem dinheiro ou ligação para jogar na Bovespa, comprar ou vender ações da Petrobras. Se tivesse recursos, compraria cada vez mais Petrobras, acredita mil por cento na empresa. Provavelmente, quase certo, o objetivo de Haroldo Lima foi denunciar acordos da Petrobras com empresas estrangeiras. Esse megacampo que ele chamou de “Pão de Açúcar”, já não é “tão nosso”como deveria ser. A Petrobras só tem 45% de um grupo que explora o petróleo desse megacampo. A inglesa BG, tem 30%, a argentina-espanhola, Repsol, os outros 25%. Por que e para quê a Petrobras precisa de recursos para exploração e prospecção?
Helio Fernandes: Haroldo Lima, insuspeito e intocávelà ilharga de uma geógrafa (blog incidental)

It is possible that some speculators have made some money with the information that he [Haroldo Lima] has opened to the public. But these speculators would earn money one way or another. If the information turns out to be false, they will sell and win again. Haroldo Lima has no money or connections that would allow him to play at Bovespa [the Brazilian Stock Market]… Probably, almost certainly, Haroldo Lima's goal was to denounce Petrobras’ contracts with foreign companies. This mega-field, which he called “Sugar Loaf”, it is not “ours” as it should be. Petrobras has only a 45% share along with the group of companies that will explore this field. The British BG has 30%, the Argentinian-Spanish Repsol has the remaining 25%. We should ask: why and for what Petrobras needs foreign resources for exploration and prospecting?
Helio Fernandes: Haroldo Lima, unsuspect and untouchableà ilharga de uma geógrafa (blog incidental)

The one new element that the oil-rich dreams have brought to the Brazilian political arena is the government resolution to change its set of rules for oil exploration and production. Although assuring international partners that there will be no change to the rules of the game already under way, Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao said on Thursday that “the government has to have better terms in the sharing of natural resources”. Indeed, the withdraw of subsalt blocks from last year's annual auction of oil concessions was seen as a move to keep the most potentially productive areas out of foreign hands, and a local sign of a growing global trend of a so-called resource nationalism spurred by high oil prices.

Com a descoberta dessa camada pré-sal, chamada de Carioca ou Pão de Açúcar, e das extraordinárias reservas já identificadas, o risco exploratório praticamente deixou de existir e, como destaca o presidente da Petrobras, Sérgio Gabrielli, passou a ser um bilhete premiado. Foi por isso que o Governo e a empresa decidiram, em boa hora, retirar da 9ª rodada de licitação os poços da camada pré-sal e estudam mudar o marco regulatório.Como era previsível, a iniciativa privada e a mídia já se articularam contra, mas a realidade do preço internacional do petróleo, da crise energética na América do Sul e em todo o mundo e, principalmente, da descoberta de gigantescos poços sem risco e com alta rentabilidade, exigem mesmo uma revisão desse marco regulatório de 1997.
Artigo do José DirceuBlog de um sem-mídia

With the discovery of this subsalt layer, called Carioca or Sugar Loaf, and of the other extraordinary reserves already identified, the exploratory risk has practically ended, and as Petrobras’ president Sergio Gabrielli has remarked, it has become a prized ticket. That was the reason why the government and the company has decided, in time, to withdraw from the 9th round of concessions the subsalt layer blocks, and the plan is to change the 1997 legal framework. As expected, private businesses and the media are making their moves against this approach, but the current reality formed by high international oil prices, the energetic crisis in South America and in the world, and mainly, the recent discovery of almost risk-free giant fields with high profitability, is indeed pushing a revision of the 1997 legislation.
Article from José DirceuBlog de um sem-mídia

In the original article [which generated the brouhaha], the author had a special interest in finding out the reason for the change of mind of the Brazilian oil managers concerning oil concessions and partnerships with foreign companies in the exploration of national reserves.

O artigo detalha as prospecções feitas na Bacia de Santos, sua localização e profundidade, a possível extensão do campo, quais os blocos de exploração que compreende, assim como as características do petróleo já descoberto… O último parágrafo manifesta a opinião do autor, inquieto com a possível retirada de blocos-chave da nona rodada de leilões da ANP, que ele julga, “talvez”, o tipo de “nacionalismo que alguns previram devido ao declínio das reservas mundiais de petróleo”. Mas ele conclui com o que considera a “real mensagem dessas descobertas”: “que não devemos perder de vista as bacias potenciais ainda desconhecidas, mas possivelmente grandes, que com freqüência são de exclusivo domínio de empresas petrolíferas nacionais”.
Petróleo de Carioca: o que dizem Haroldo Lima e a World OilVermelho

The article details the explorations developed at the Santos Basin, their position and depth, the possible extension of the field, which blocks of exploration it comprehends, as well as the characteristics of the oil already found… The last paragraph manifests the author's opinion, his unease with the possible withdrawal of some key blocks from ANP's 9th round of auctions, which he considers to be, maybe, the manifestation of the kind of “nationalism that some have predicted due to the decline of world oil reserves”. But he wraps up with what he considers to be the “real message of these discoveries” — “that we must not lose sight of the as-yet unknown, but possibly great, potential of basins that are often the exclusive domain of national oil companies”.
Petróleo de Carioca: o que dizem Haroldo Lima e a World OilVermelho

God is Brazilian,” Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said in November in response to his government's announcement that massive new oil reserves had been discovered offshore. Now, as might be expected, various interests are lining up to compete over who owns and benefits from this gift of God.


  • If you remember the scenes from “Blood Diamonds” where the African elder told the younger one, “let’s hope they didn’t find oil here or we’ll be screwed”. I hope Brazil has the autonomy to choose the right partner to develop this “God’s gift”

  • […] Brazilian Media covers the off-shore oil discoveries with some controversy in this review from Global Voices […]

  • […] New Oil in Brazil Unleashes a Gusher of Media Controversies. Ainda não foi traduzido para o português, :( estamos precisando reforçar o nosso time de tradutores. Alguém se habilita? Filed under: Brasil   |   Tags: imprensa, mídia, petróleo […]

  • […] around the national oil company and letting go of the environmentally frieindly alternatives.  The Brazilian oil discovery has brought joy to many, but controversy in the domestic press as well.   Now, there is plenty of investment dollars out there. The stockprice of the Brazilian national […]

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