The Government of Brazil is reportedly planning to auction seven offshore oil fields located off the coast of the north-eastern state of Bahia.

Three of the fields are located in the Jacuipe Basin and four in the Camamu-Almada region.

According to an Associated Press report, the government plans to go ahead with the auction despite warnings from Brazil’s main environmental body.

Earlier, Brazilian environment institute IBAMA advised against exploration in the seven fields out of 42 offshore resources which were originally offered for auction on March 2019, stating that the offshore oil fields are situated in ‘highly sensitive areas’ and may lead to oil spills.

“The impacts of a spill of large proportions over mangroves and corals are in general irreversible, harming the local economy and health.”

It added that any spill will damage marine life across the Abrolhos islands, spread over an area of 913km². Four of the five islands host a marine national park with rare coral formations and rich fauna.

IBAMA analysts highlighted that a spill could reach the coast and spread across the island chain within two days, leaving little time for the authorities to protect marine life.

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“Add to that the fact the impact of a spill of large proportions over mangroves and corals are in general irreversible, harming the local economy and health,” AP quoted the document as saying.

However, the new head of the institute Eduardo Bim rejected the report without providing additional details.

The move comes at the time when the government aims to expedite privatisation of several industries, including offshore exploration to improve economic growth.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, Brazil is the ninth largest producer of oil in the world. In 2016, Brazil produced around 3.24 million barrels per day of petroleum and other derivatives.