November 7, 2019

Mega oil auctions in Brazil become mega fiasco

Under public pressure, ‘biggest oil auctions ever” see no international majors place a bid

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Experts had suggested that these would be the biggest (by price) auctions of oil drilling rights in history, yet they were a complete fiasco, with no major companies outside of Brazil placing bids and only 3 of the 9 blocks being successfully auctioned.

“These auctions have been a mega fiasco. Firstly even considering drilling more oil in 2019 is an affront to everything we know about climate change. To run these auctions as tens of thousands of Brazilians and hundreds of kilometres of our coast are suffering an oil spill was a terrible mistake.” Nicole Oliveira, Latin America Director of 350.Org said. 

The auctions were received coldly by the sector’s consultants and raised questions about the viability of the exploration of new oil blocks in Brazil.

The auction occurred in the shadow of the massive oil spill and the president of the ANP (the government agency running the auctions), Décio Oddone, only spoke about the disaster when he was questioned by activists from He did not explain how the government would be better placed to ensure a more efficient response in case of further oil spills.

“We are entering a new phase of the fossil fuel industry in Brazil, which is even more dangerous, as huge reserves will begin to be exploited without the people affected, such as the traditional communities living in coastal areas, even being heard,” said Andreia Takua, president of the National Indigenous Health Council and activist at, who was present at the auctions.

Calculation made by and based on data from the ANP itself indicated that CO2 emissions corresponding to oil reserves auctions on November 6 and 7 would have been over 8.7 billion tons. The volume is equivalent to four times Brazil’s total emissions in 2018.

“This auction could have been a further burning of the fuse on a huge climate bomb. Instead it’s another evidence point that the age of oil is over.” Nicole Oliveira, Latin America Director of 350.Org said. 

Protest against the auctions

Painted black, to symbolize the oil spill, demonstrators erected banners with the words “Oceans without Oil” (in Portuguese: Mar sem Óleo) and stood in front of the area outside of the hotel where the ANP promoted the event on Wednesday the 6th and Thursday 7th, in Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro.  

The protestors were drawing attention to the damage caused by the oil spill in the Northeast, including areas such as Abrolhos, and to demand the transition from the era of fossil fuels to renewable energy. and the organizations Arayara, COESUS, Coalition for Climate in Rio de Janeiro, President’s Forum of the National Indigenous Health Council and Ahomar (Association of Men and Women of the Sea), which represents fishermen and fisherwomen in several states of Brazil organised the protest.