San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Arias, Brazilian Company Discuss Oil Exploration

After meeting with a delegation of Brazilian government ministers and investors Tuesday, President Oscar Arias announced the investors might study the possibility of petroleum exploration off the country’s coasts, said a statement from Casa Presidencial.

Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras), a Brazilian oil company, would work alongside the National Oil Refinery (RECOPE), to study the feasibility of exploration 50 miles off the Caribbean coast, Arias told the daily Al Día.

The Brazilian investors are interested in finding petroleum and installing a distillery for ethanol production in the Caribbean port city of Limón, the daily reported.

Environmental-impact studies are under way for the distillery, which would cost an estimated $20 million, and would be a joint Brazil-Costa Rica venture to export ethanol to the United States once Costa Rica has ratified the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA), Luiz Eduardo Furlan, Brazilian Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Commerce said in the statement from Casa Presidencial.

Regarding potential environmental problems petroleum exploration could pose, the minister said, “What must prevail are the country’s interests – people want cheaper fuel.”

Like the country’s environmentalists, former President Abel Pacheco (2002-2006) opposes petroleum exploration, and established a moratorium on the activity, as well as open-pit mining, during his administration (TT, June 7, 2002).

The Arias administration, however, has made it clear it is open to both activities –to the dismay of environmentalists (TT,May 19).


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