Brazilian environmental protection agency Ibama has turned down Petrobras’ proposal to drill a well in the Foz do Amazonas sedimentary basin at the mouth of the Amazon River.

The plan to drill exploration blocks in the FZA-M-59 block sparked vehement resistance from activists who warned of the possible harm it would cause.

The decision was taken after Ibama’s experts filed a technical recommendation, which pointed out technical inconsistencies in an application filed by Petrobras.

Ibama president Rodrigo Agostinho said: “There is no doubt that Petrobras was offered every opportunity to remedy critical points of its project, but that it still presents worrying inconsistencies for the safe operation in a new exploratory frontier of high socio-environmental vulnerability.”

The Brazilian energy major has been attempting to open up a new exploration front for years on the coast of Amapa state in northern Brazil, close to Guyana. Exxon Mobil has already made significant discoveries in the region.

Block FZA-M-59’s environmental licensing procedure started in 2014 at the request of the project’s original contractor, bp Energy do Brasil.

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The block’s oil exploration rights were given to Petrobras in December 2020.

It is the second rejection for drilling operations in the area. Ibama rejected the issuing of licences for five blocks in 2018, under corporation Total’s control.

Concurrently, Petrobras has announced the discovery of hydrocarbons in the Santos Basin pre-salt, in an appraisal well in the Aram block.

Situated 260km from the city of Santos-SP, well 3-BRSA-1387D-SPS is at a water depth of 1,979m.