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Instituto ARAYARA Takes Legal Action to Protect Submarine Mountains of Fernando de Noronha from Oil and Gas Exploration

The International ARAYARA Institute, filed a Public Civil Action (PCA) this Friday (17) to halt the exploration of oil and gas in 11 blocks located in the Potiguar basin, in the so-called SPOT-AP2 Sector. These blocks are scheduled to be offered in the 4th Cycle of the Permanent Concession Offer (PCO) by the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas, and Biofuels (ANP) in an auction set for December 13th in Rio de Janeiro.

“In this cycle, the ANP offers a total of 602 blocks and an area of marginal accumulation in the OPC modality, in addition to promoting, on the same day, the 2nd Cycle of the Permanent Sharing Offer (OPP) with 5 blocks in the pre-salt polygon, thus making it by far the largest auction in terms of the number of blocks in the history of Brazil, amid a global upheaval with climate disasters affecting Brazil and the world.”


“The auction discredits Brazil as a climate leader. It’s very complicated to have such a great internal inconsistency and still want to assume an external leadership, even while reducing deforestation. This is because the biggest problem in the world today regarding greenhouse gas emissions is the burning of fossil fuels,” as explained by Nicole de Oliveira, executive director of the ARAYARA Institute.


The analysis conducted by our legal and scientific team revealed that the ANP did not carry out a proper technical assessment of the feasibility of offering the blocks in the SPOT-AP2 Sector, disregarding the provisions of art. 2, I, §3 of Interministerial Ordinance No. 1/MME/MMA of March 22, 2022. Relying on the Joint Manifestation of MMA/MME No. 2/2020/ANP, intended for the 17th Round of Auctions, the ANP failed to conduct a specific analysis for the blocks in question.


The 11 blocks in question (POT-M-1040; POT-M-1042; POT-M-768; POT-M-770; POT-M-772; POT-M-774; POT-M-776; POT-M-861; POT-M-867; POT-M-954; and POT-M-956) are located over the submarine mountains (Sirius, Touros, and Guará) of the Fernando de Noronha chain, recognized as a World Natural Heritage by UNESCO in 2001. These geological formations play a crucial role in the region’s ecosystem and have been classified as an Area of Significant Ecological and Biological Importance.


Our action emphasizes that “The mere offering of the mentioned blocks with the pointed irregularities completely stains the process and generates, moreover, legal insecurity for private initiatives.”


In addition to the absence of technical analysis, we highlight the socio-environmental risks associated with exploration in the region. Sensitive ecosystems important to Brazilian biodiversity, such as the Rocas Atoll and Fernando de Noronha, may be impacted, resulting in irreversible damage.


Faced with the imminent threat to marine ecosystems, our PCA seeks the interim suspension of the offer of blocks in the Potiguar Basin in the SPOT-AP2 Sector until a comprehensive and well-founded environmental analysis is conducted by competent bodies, such as ICMBio and IBAMA. We emphasize that the mere offering of the blocks, without the necessary analysis, jeopardizes the entire process and creates legal uncertainty for private initiatives.


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