RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazilian environmental regulators will
join Petrobras in appealing an injunction that halted work on a
major refinery project in Rio de Janeiro state.
Given the economic impact of the halt on the $8 billion
Comperj refinery, the appeal is expected to
be filed, said Marilene Ramos, President of Rio State
Environmental Regulator (INEA). "The lawyers are meeting right
now," Ms. Ramos said.
Petrobras, INEA and Federal Environmental Regulator (IBAMA),
will appeal the decision together, Ms. Ramos said.
Petrobras said it had been informed that a federal judge
suspended environmental licenses granted by INEA for the refinery under construction in Rio de Janeiro
state. According to Ms. Ramos, the judge ruled that IBAMA had
jurisdiction over licensing the project, forcing a halt in construction until IBAMA issued new
The suspension stems from a case brought by federal
prosecutors in 2008 that regulators thought had been resolved
in 2009, Ms. Ramos said.
"A substitute federal judge grabbed this case out of the
drawer and made this decision," Ms. Ramos said, calling the
decision strange and adding that the case was without
"State regulators clearly have jurisdiction to issue these
licenses," Ms. Ramos said.
Petrobras said that it was evaluating all possible measures
related to the halt, which would stop work on one of the
company's largest projects.
The Comperj refinery will have installed capacity to process
165,000 bpd of crude oil when it enters operation in April
2015, according to the company. A second phase, expected to be
completed by 2018, would double capacity.
When completed, the refinery would ease Petrobras's
dependence on expensive fuel imports that have undercut the
company's profits over the past two years.
Petrobras's refineries are operating at 98% capacity and
unable to meet growing demand for gasoline and diesel fuel in
Latin America's largest economy, forcing the company to import
gasoline and diesel to meet demand. But the company currently
sells the imported fuels at a discount in the domestic market
because of a controversial pricing policy that doesn't pass
along international volatility to consumers at the pump.
Dow Jones Newswires