The Bacalhau oil field

Oil from Bacalhau would emit millions of tons CO2 

The Bacalhau oil field in Brazil is estimated to hold 2 billion barrels of oil, which are located 2000 metres below sea level. It is also stretched along the Brazilian coast and covers 800 kilometres of pre-salt areas. This not only makes it extremely demanding and expensive to extract the oil, it is also very harmful. Burning 2 billion barrels of oil would lead to high emissions, possibly upwards of 800 million tons of CO2, which is nearly double the annual Brazilian emissions. 

Bacalhau harms local fishing industry

One of the biggest risks of continuing to explore the Bacalhau oil field is to harm the local population in the region, which subsequently is among the poorest in the country. They are dependent on tourism and fishing which are threatened by Equinor’s Bacalhau project. Possible oil spills, changes in the ecosystem while in development, and other risks to the environment would harm the livelihood of the local population in many years to come. 

Risk of losing tens of species 

Bacalhau is surrounded by a fragile ecosystem in an area which is regarded as a hotspot for biodiversity. In other words, there are huge risks of losing some of the most unique and valuable species in the ocean. According to the Environmental Impact Study (EIA) and the Environmental Impact Report (RIMA), there are 18 species of birds, 6 species of whales and dolphins, 4 species of sea turtles, and 25 fish species  in Bacalhau that are threatened with extinction.  

Big chance of devastating oil spills 

Equinor and the Brazilian NGO Instituto de Cultura Oceânica (ICO) have made conflicting impact assessments of how a possible oil spill would play out. According to Equinor, an oil spill from the Bacalhau oil field would not reach the Brazilian coast, which ICO disputes while claiming that Equinor underestimated water currents by 30%. ICO most definitely believe that the oil spill would reach the shore, but more importantly fear that it would cover an area the size of Norway (385,207 km2). In the Equinor impact assessment the worst case scenario is made up to cover 14,000 km2, which is a stark contrast to ICO’s assessment of the consequences of an oil spill in Bacalhau. 

Brazil have great opportunities in clean energy  

There are great risks attached to the Bacalhau project and continuation of the Brazilian oil production, but greater opportunities within clean energy investments. According to the World Bank, Brazil is in a brilliant position to become a leading clean energy power globally. It would not be more expensive than sticking to fossil fuels. Their latest Country Climate and Development Report also states that climate-related events could push between 800,000 and 3,000,000 people into extreme poverty by 2030. This highlights the need to tap into a possibly lucrative and extensive renewable energy industry, while abandoning oil and gas. 

You can champion the local resistance to the Bacalhau project in Brazil

Equinor is criticised for how they have obtained their preliminary and installation licence, and in addition, failing to ensure participation from civil society in the public hearings on the Bacalhau project. They were held online, which kept local representatives from raising questions or obtaining necessary explanations for the project. Critics also argue that Equinor’s activities in the Bacalhau project up until now were a grossly harmful capitalisation of the political situation in Brazil, where the former Bolsonaro government at the time stood in stark contrast to the official Norwegian stand on its environmental policies.