Brazilian government sends in the troops over Libra

The government in Brazil has sent out troops onto the street of Rio de Janeiro in preparation for demonstrations that are expected to take place during a major auction for oil exploration rights.

Over one thousand soldier surrounded a hotel where the auction of the massive Libra field is due to take place today. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff ordered the heightened security following violent demonstrations in Rio earlier this month, as well as threats from anti-government protestors to march on the auction. Petrol and gas bombs were hurled at troops during country-wide protests last week, while oil workers launched a strike against the sale of Libra, which disrupted production at over forty oil platforms and refineries.

The Libra field belongs to the Brazilian government’s National Petroleum Agency and is part of oil reserves discovered in 2010. It is located 230km off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Eleven international oil companies are thought to be interested in the oilfield: nine of them have so far reportedly paid the required registration fee. However, critics of the government argue that Brazil should protect the monopoly of exploration of its oil reserves. Unions have argued that the Libra auction will damage national interest by allowing foreign companies to share production rights with state-run oil company Petrobras.

But the government insists it is not privatizing the country’s resources: “We’re taking over this immense wealth that lies under the sea and on land. It is not available to us if it stays where it is,” Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao said.


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