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INSIGHT - Brazil - energy policy

Released on 2012-03-26 13:00 GMT

Email-ID 213877
Date 2011-01-19 03:51:47
From a lunch meeting with Dilma Rousseff's former energy advisor for
Rio Grande do Sul

The source downloaded a ton of the most recent energy data on Brazil
onto my computer. Will pass along to the research team and Peter for
reference. He has also offered to put us in touch with whoever we need
from Petrobras. This source is going to be mostly used to expand into
other relationships in the energy sector.

One interesting thing to note -- out of all the issues I've discussed
in various meetings in Brazil -- foreign policy, police corruption,
organized crime, drug trafficking, terrorism, security, defense, etc.,
the one issue that has been by far the most sensitive is energy. It's
not just my imagination, either. Paulo has noticed the same thing.
Everyone feels extremely reluctant to discuss anything related to
energy strategy. This source in particular was really uncomfortable
talking about Petrobras strategy himself and preferred for us to just
speak with them directly. Those working on the strategic side of
Petrobras won't discuss anything on the phone. Even in later meetings
in Sao Paulo, a source's body language totally switched from extremely
engaged to guarded the second we went into a discussion on Petrobras's
moves. It's really strange. When I inquired about it, the answer I got
was that it was a highly strategic issue for Brazil so people aren't
as open to talking about it.

This source talked a lot about how Brazil's big focus is on self-
sufficiency and provided all the data and maps to back that up. Every
source acknowledges that since the nationalizations and military
occupation of the energy facilities in Bolivia, Brazil is extremely
cautious with La Paz and is working toward dramatically reducing any
dependency it has on Bolivia for nat gas.

When we were talking about Argentina, he brought up an interesting
example of an agreement Brazil and Argentina came up with a few years
ago in which Brazil would provide Argentina with hydropower while
Argentina would provide natural gas to Brazil in return. The purpose
of the deal was to show the 'strategic partnership' that the two
countries have (we've seen a lot of examples of this, the latest one
being Argentina's offer to help build infrastructure in Brazil for the
World Cup.) Now, Argentina isn't shipping nat gas to Brazil anymore
because it's having trouble supplying its own market. Brazil is still
exporting hydropower though. SHows the growing imbalance between the

The govt intends to throw whatever money it needs to for the pre-sal
investment. So much is hinged on this thing, and they are throwing
everythign they've got at the whole endeavor. The source claims that
there's no preference Brazil is giving to certain companies over
others -- they plan to build a big international consortium with
Petrobras of course having the largest stake and veto power in all pre-
sal exploration deals.

The source knows Dilma well and worked a lot of years with her. He
knows her style and said that he doesn't expect much change at all int
he way of energy reform. As he put it, all the energy reforms
implemented over the past 8 years all came from Dilma's head. Lula
didn't get into that. As he sees it, most of that work has been done.