State-owned company files 23-GW offshore projects with Ibama and now holds the largest portfolio in Brazil
Jean Paul Prates — Foto: Leo Pinheiro/Valor
Petrobras is firmly in the energy transition race. The company announced that it filed a request with the federal environment agency Ibama to start licensing for 10 areas on the Brazilian coast intended for offshore wind energy projects with a joint potential capacity of 23 gigawatts.
The amount adds to its participation in an existing partnership with Equinor and marks the turning point in the state-owned oil company’s activities to become an energy company, accounting for more than 30 GW in this type of project.
With this, Petrobras assumes a prominent role in developing wind projects in Brazil and begins to have more weight on implementing green policies. CEO Jean Paul Prates highlighted Petrobras’ review of its strategic plan to adapt to the new context and its know-how of the Brazilian offshore environment due to its tradition in maritime operations.
Seven of the new areas under study are in the Northeast region (three in Rio Grande do Norte, three in Ceará, and one in Maranhão); two in the Southeast (one in Rio de Janeiro and one in Espírito Santo); and one in the South of the country (Rio Grande do Sul).
“The initiative marks Petrobras’ entry into the offshore wind segment with a campaign to measure offshore winds on the company’s fixed platforms in the seas of Ceará and Espírito Santo,” said Mr. Prates.
It’s unclear when the projects will be operational. This type of electricity generation is already a reality in Europe, Asia, and North America, but it depends on advances in regulation in Brazil, where dozens of licensing requests are piling up at Ibama offices. They total more than 189 GW of installed capacity, a potential that is still untapped.
A bill is still under discussion in Congress, but Energy Minister Alexandre Silveira said during the Brazil WindPower industry event this week that the legal framework for offshore wind power would be ready by the end of 2023. A document with clearer, more predictable rules may offer more legal security to investors.
Mr. Prates said that the so-called Equatorial Margin may become one of the most attractive in the world for wind power after its regulation is approved. “The Equatorial Margin will be the most competitive offshore environment in up to seven years, and investors from all over the world will compete for it because it is shallow and has no adverse weather conditions, like in Europe and the North Sea,” he compared.
Despite the current context of low growth in demand, energy surplus and low prices that could make any expansion cost-ineffective, the prospects for improvement should begin in 2028 and become even better by 2030, according to the assessment by Maurício Tolmasquim, Petrobras’ executive in charge of energy transition. He foresees that Brazil will attract international investors and that the projects will be economically viable but avoids discussing numbers.
“Petrobras will not enter or invest in projects that are not viable. It is not yet possible to estimate costs. Petrobras only enters into projects where the net present value is positive. We will only know if it is profitable after we carry out the studies and know the energy prices,” the executive said.
On the horizon, the company follows the same trend as other oil and gas companies that aim to meet their demands on decarbonization and electrification of their operations and fertilizer production, in addition to meeting the production of green hydrogen to supply the future world demand. Brazil is considered the main export hub for this input, given that it can generate renewable energy on a large scale at very competitive prices due to its natural characteristics.
Despite the announcement, Mr. Prates noted that there is still much to do, as Petrobras will need to obtain the right to use the maritime areas to reach this goal.
*Por Robson Rodrigues — São Paulo
Source: Valor International