Category: Brazil's energy


ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) — It’s been nearly five months since the presidents of Brazil and Paraguay agreed on a breakthrough deal to triple Paraguay’s income from the world’s second-largest hydroelectric dam, but the money won’t be flowing anytime soon.

The treaty would increase Paraguay’s income from energy generated by the Itaipu dam on the shared Parana River to $360 million, money that Paraguay’s President Fernando Lugo wants to spend on agrarian reform to benefit 300,000 landless peasant families.

It also calls for Brazil to invest in high-capacity power lines across Paraguay, creating an energy grid that could help one of South America’s poorest countries reshape its agricultural economy.

The treaty, signed by Lugo and Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva on July 25, was quickly approved by Paraguay’s congress, but lawmakers in Brazil have yet to move the plan out of the first of four committees due to consider it — partly because what Brazil mostly gets from the deal is good relations with its poorer neighbor.

”It is controversial. It’s not a simple matter, because it carries more benefits for Paraguay than Brazil,” Brazilian Rep. Severiano Alves, a member of the lower house’s foreign relations committee, told The Associated Press.

He said both houses of Congress would probably vote on it in the first half of 2010.

Carlos Mateo Balmelli, Itaipu’s Paraguayan director, has lobbied for the agreement, but Alves says Brazil should not be pressured.

”They didn’t pay anything to build the dam — they just provided territory and water from the river. Brazil was the one that assumed the cost of financing Itaipu,” Alves said.

Itaipu’s 20 huge turbines generate electricity divided equally between the neighbors, but Paraguay’s much smaller population and economy consumes the energy of only one turbine. The current treaty forces Paraguay to sell its excess capacity to Brazil until 2023, without the possibility of selling the energy elsewhere, at far less than market prices.

The new treaty would increase Paraguay’s income from $5.10 to $15.30 per megawatt/hour for excess power sold to Brazil. Lugo said the proposal has already succeeded in overcoming Paraguay’s

isolation, a legacy of Alfredo Stroessners 1954-1989 dictatorship.

The existing treaty was signed in 1973, before the dam was built. Both countries took on loans to build it — debt that now totals $17 billion. But Paraguay doesn’t recognize $8 billion of it because it considers the debt to be illegally obtained by corrupt officials of the former government.

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Associated Press Writer Marco Sibaja in Brasilia, Brazil contribued to this story.

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Preliminary work on the Santo Antonio dam
Photograph: Luciane Simões / Amigos da Terra – Amazônia Brasileira.


By Reuters

PORTO VELHO, Brazil (Reuters) – Straddling one the Amazon’s main tributaries and flanked by dense jungle, a construction pit the size of a small town bustles with bulldozers and nearly 10,000 workers blasting huge slabs of rock off the river bank.

While blue-and-yellow macaws fly overhead, a network of pipes fed by a constant flow of trucks pours enough concrete to build 37 football stadiums.

The $7.7 billion (4.7 billion pound) Santo Antonio dam on the Madeira river is part of Brazil’s largest concerted development plan for the Amazon since the country’s military government cut highways through the rain forest to settle the vast region during its two-decade reign starting in 1964.

In the coming years, dams, roads, gas pipelines, and power grids worth more than $30 billion will be built to tap the region’s vast raw materials, and transport its agricultural products in coming years.

The Santo Antonio dam in the western Amazon’s Rondonia state, which goes online in December 2011, will pave the way for a trade route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by making more of the Madeira river navigable.

But the behemoth project may also make it tougher for the nation to steer a new course as a leader of the global green movement.
Brazil’s government says such development is needed to improve the lives of the region’s 25 million inhabitants, who remain among the poorest in Latin America’s biggest economy.

With the economy expected to grow at 5-6 percent annually in coming years and the country preparing to host the 2014 soccer World Cup and 2016 Olympics, the government wants to ensure ample energy and adequate infrastructure.

Critics say not all projects make economic sense and many energy-saving measures — such as switching from electric to solar water heaters — have not been explored.

They also argue that the drive for development in the world’s biggest forest highlights a policy contradiction as Brazil tries to play a top role in forging a global deal on climate change at the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen.

Brazil reversed years of opposition to greenhouse gas targets this year, saying it intended to reduce Amazon deforestation by 80 percent and curb projected 2020 greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent.

“They talk about reducing deforestation and boosting controls but they invest in these mega-projects,” said Israel Vale, director at the Kaninde environmental advocacy group in Porto Velho, capital of Rondonia.
“The rhetoric doesn’t fully match reality,” he said.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a pragmatic former factory worker, has acknowledged the importance of tackling climate change and the heavy contribution that destruction of the forest makes to carbon emissions.

But he has consistently backed infrastructure projects in the Amazon and hits out at foreigners he says want to preserve the forest like a park, ignoring the needs of its inhabitants.

“I don’t want gringos asking us to leave Amazon people to die of hunger under the canopy of a tree,” Lula said in the Amazon city Manaus in November.

He says Brazil needs more international financial aid for sustainable development in the region, something he will push for in Copenhagen.

PROJECTING JOBS

New shopping malls, supermarkets and hotels reviving the decrepit centre of Porto Velho showcase the new wealth the Santo Antonio dam brings to an otherwise impoverished region.

Santo Antonio Energia, the consortium building and operating the dam, is made up of Brazilian power and construction companies, a pension fund, as well as domestic and foreign banks.

The investment boom has helped many people get their first job with proper benefits.

“The people who want to protect the forest have never been hungry or needy,” said Antonia Meyrilen, a 27-year-old mother training to be a carpenter. Porto Velho is not new to boom and bust cycles, previously driven by rubber, gold, and timber.

The town of Jaci-Parana, halfway between Santo Antonio and a second dam similar in size being built further upstream on the Madeira, shows how wealth doesn’t always equal progress.

Aside from the pick-up trucks with company logos, the scene is reminiscent of a Wild West boom town during the California gold rush.

Bars and brothels hammered together overnight with rough-cut boards line the muddy main strip, with pool tables and prostitutes luring customers. Jukeboxes and video games blare into the night and swinging doors reveal back-parlour gambling.

Talk abounds that landowners have hired a gunman to kill tenants who could otherwise claim part of their compensation for houses that will be flooded by the dam.

“Our town’s been turned upside down,” said Irene Nascimento, 47, who runs a bar and convenience store.

“The price of land trebled in a few months, everything is expensive — some people gain, others lose,” she said.

Santo Antonio Energia has donated millions of dollars to philanthropic projects, including blackboards and computers for schools, the revival of an old railway and the installation of a much-needed sewage system in Porto Velho.

When the dam is complete, most jobs related to the project will go and financial benefits will be limited to tax payments to public coffers, raising the risk that boom may again turn to bust.

“If the residents here don’t keep watch and define the public policies they want, they won’t get much out of this,” said Ricardo Alves, head of sustainable development at Santo Antonio Energia.

ENVIRONMENT

Santo Antonio and most of the other 10 dams on the drawing board for the Amazon region require a much smaller water reservoir than older dams did and therefore flood a far smaller area per unit of generated energy.

The company says it is minimizing environmental impact by treating sewage from the construction site, combating malaria, and relocating affected flora and fauna. It also donated trucks and equipment to government environmental services.

Still, on both sides of the river as many as 1,000 families will see their homes flooded and their cemeteries moved. Indians and fishermen fear the land they hunt on and the river they fish in won’t be the same.

The roughly 200 families that agreed to move to a model housing project with running water, electricity, and an already planted vegetable garden are mostly content.

Several of the others prefer their simple but familiar surroundings — often wood shacks with no amenities.

“We have no choice. They want to pull us out, so they have to pay,” said Leonardo Fonseca da Cruz, a 63 year-old fisherman who lives along the picturesque Teotonio rapids.

His neighbours said the Santo Antonio consortium was offering too little to compensate for lost revenue from fishing.

Company officials admit they don’t know how many fish species will be made extinct or what impact a growing population will have on the environment.

“In order to build a dam, you need to move the river. Of course, it’s going to have an impact,” said Antonio Cardilli, Santo Antonio Energia’s head of employee training.

“There are people in society who want to eat an omelette without breaking the eggs,” he adds.

Throughout the world hydro energy is still an attractive option because it is much cheaper than nuclear or fossil fuel-fired power plants.

New technologies, accumulated experiences, and heightened awareness have eased but not eliminated the social and environmental risks in building dams, says Carlos Tucci, who has advised the United Nations, World Bank and others on dam construction for 40 years.
“We have the ability to create better projects today but there is always an inevitable local impact and there are still other risks — design or implementation problems, unforeseen changes in water flow,” said Tucci.

A series of dams on Brazil’s Sao Francisco river and an unexpected change in water volume caused sedimentation problems that led to dramatic algae growth and a 50 percent reduction in fish stock, said Tucci.

At Santo Antonio, a different dam design and water quality should avoid such problems, though the impact of heavy sedimentation accumulation is uncertain, said Tucci, adding that the company’s original sedimentation and hydrology impact study was poor.

Critics say the government pressured the environmental protection agency Ibama into rubber-stamping the environmental licence in 2007 and waived the need for certain impact studies. At the time, two Ibama officials resigned over the standoff.

“The government used political and not technical criteria,” said Roberto Smeraldi, head of Friends of the Earth in Brazil, which sued Ibama for allegedly breaking environmental law in the licensing process.

NATIVE INDIANS

Leaders of native Indians living on nearby reservations are sceptical, saying government development projects usually make life worse for them.

“The arrival of the white man, the road, the time they threw chickens at us and said it was a farming project to ensure us income — are we better off today?” asked Antenur Caritiana, of the Caritiana tribe.
He is concerned that rising water levels of tributaries will flood bridges and roads, and that their women will be drawn to prostitution as their lands are invaded by loggers and wildcat miners.

Most Indians in his jungle town understand little of the dams and their potential impact, despite company briefings.

But according to village elder Delgado Caritiana, they won’t object if given education, health and farm aid.

“The main concern is the problem of monitoring and protecting Indian lands,” said Santo Antonio’s Alves.

Forest guards are to help protect reservations but Indians don’t trust the government Indian foundation Funai, which negotiates with Santo Antonio Energia on their behalf.

“The Funai doesn’t listen to us, they bring their projects ready-made from the capital,” said Antenur.

The number of Indians over the last two decades has more than doubled to nearly 1 million, out of Brazil’s population of 195 million people. Their lands account for 12 percent of Brazil’s territory. But whether on a spacious reservation in the Amazon or cramped on ghetto-like reserves in the south, most of their land is under pressure from ranchers, loggers, wildcat miners, or power and construction companies.

POLITICAL PRESSURE

Such challenges are likely to be multiplied with the planned construction of the much larger Belo Monte dam on the upper Xingu river. The region is home to numerous Indian tribes and the dam would directly impact 120,000 people.

The environmental agency Ibama is again under pressure, this time to speed up the Belo Monte approval process. Again, two officials resigned and conservationists cried foul.

“They want them to turn a blind eye to technical and legal procedures, and sometimes even to ethics,” said Marina Silva, former environment minister and renowned Amazon defender.

Perhaps the biggest worry for environmentalists is the planned pavement of the BR 319 motorway between Porto Velho and Manaus, which leads through one of the most pristine areas of the Amazon with a high biodiversity and many endemic species.

Satellite images showing fish-bone shaped patterns of deforestation show how roads attract settlers to set up farms and cattle ranches.(See:http://maps.google.com.br/maps?hl=pt-BR &ie= UTF8&ll=-3.899878,-54.165344&spn=1.254997,1.7276&t=h&z=9)

Deforestation of the Amazon has fallen to the lowest rate in over two decades, due in part to stepped up controls on illegal ranching and logging but also to weaker global demand for farm products from the region, such as beef, soy and timber. Still, nearly 20 percent of the Amazon has already disappeared and large chunks of the forest are still destroyed every year. In the year through July 2009 an area the size of the U.S. state of Delaware was chopped down.

Supporters of the road say it would reduce the cost of merchandise in Manaus but studies show transportation costs to and from Manaus are cheaper by river than road.

Jorge Viana, former governor of the Amazon state Acre and a leading voice in Lula’s Workers’ Party last month sent a letter to Lula along with a group of prominent scholars saying there was “no economic justification that can compensate for the environmental cost” of the road.

The government pledges to create new national parks to buffer the environmental impact of the road but experts point to numerous parks in the region that have been invaded by ranchers and loggers.

“The road makes no sense. We are not against development and infrastructure but it needs to be intelligent,” said Paulo Moutinho, coordinator at the independent Amazon research Institute, Ipam.
He said projects like the road could fuel deforestation, which makes up 75 percent of Brazil’s carbon emissions.

“If the (infrastructure) plan is not changed, it will put at risk Brazil’s deforestation and emissions targets.”
(Editing by Claudia Parsons)

State-run Petrobras is poised to become a major global player


One of the Petrobras platforms

By Juan ForeroWashington Post Foreign Service

Everything about the shipyard here is colossal — the 4,000-man workforce, the billions sunk into it in capital costs, the half-finished 10-story-high production platforms.

But then, so is the challenge facing Brazil’s state-controlled energy company, Petrobras: developing a group of newly discovered deep-sea oil fields that energy analysts say will catapult this country into the ranks of the world’s petro-powers. The oil pools are 200 miles out in the Atlantic and more than four miles down, under freezing seas, rock and a heavy cap of salt.

Petrobras, which until recently was little known outside oil circles, has launched a five-year, $174 billion project to provide platforms, rigs, support vessels and drilling systems to develop tens of billions of barrels of oil. Energy officials here project that Brazil — still an oil importer five years ago — will in the next decade have one of the world’s biggest oil reserves.

“It’s going to change the role of Brazil in the geopolitics of oil,” Petrobras’s president, José Sergio Gabrielli, said in an interview at the company’s headquarters in Rio de Janeiro. “We are going to become a much bigger producer.”

Petrobras estimates that production in Brazil could reach 3.9 million barrels by 2020, up from more than 2 million a day now. Proven oil reserves would rise from 14.4 billion barrels to more than 30 billion barrels, according to government estimates, putting Brazil in the same league as such major oil exporters as Qatar, Canada, Kazakhstan and Nigeria.

The new discoveries in Brazil’s offshore “pre-salt” region do not mean that the country will become a major exporter of crude, according to Gabrielli. He noted that Brazil’s economy, which is the world’s eighth-largest and is steadily growing, is expected to consume much of Petrobras’s projected production. But, he added, as the country meets its own needs, it will also develop for export refined products such as gasoline, diesel and biofuels.

In an era of drum-tight supply, the discoveries off Brazil’s coast and Petrobras’s growing stature are changing the world’s oil balance, because few regions outside the OPEC countries are expected to generate significant growth in crude production, said Michelle Billig Patron, senior director of political risk for the New York-based Pira Energy Group.

“There is really only Canada and Brazil when you’re talking about a million barrels a day more in growth over the next 10 years,” Patron said.

A firm hits it big

The engine of that growth is a multinational that, for much of its 56-year history, was little more than a trading company. It pumped a few thousand barrels a day almost as a side note to its real function, overseeing oil imports. Then in 1974 — a time when oil shocks had alarmed Brazilian officials — came a major discovery: the offshore Campos Basin, east of Rio.

“Petrobras, before Campos, produced 180,000 barrels a day,” said João Carlos de Luca, a former Petrobras executive who is president of the Brazilian Petroleum Institute, which represents foreign oil companies here. “After Campos, it was a company that searched for self-sufficiency in production.”

In its drive to produce, Petrobras became a leader in offshore production. The Rio-based company is now responsible for more than a fifth of the world’s deep-sea operations, more than any other company, Gabrielli said. It operates in 26 countries and drills off the African coast and in the Gulf of Mexico.

With a market capitalization of more than $220 billion, Petrobras is one of the world’s 10 biggest companies. Over the past two years, it has been the most frequently traded foreign company on the New York Stock Exchange, trade data show. Among investors bullish on Petrobras is George Soros, who last year made the oil company the largest single holding in his investment fund, according to Bloomberg.

Still, the company remains firmly under the control of the state, with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva calling it a national icon whose fortunes are intertwined with Brazil’s.

Though private investors control nearly 60 percent of Petrobras stock, the Brazilian government has 56 percent of the voting rights. Seven of its nine directors are from the government. The board’s chairwoman is Dilma Rousseff, a Lula confidant who is expected to be the ruling party’s candidate in next year’s presidential elections.

The Lula government is now seeking passage of a law to give Petrobras control over future projects in the newly discovered fields. Foreign companies have explored for oil in Brazil since 1997, but the proposed regulations would limit their ability to make major decisions involving the new oil pools.

Gabrielli said it is logical to make Petrobras the operator, with a mandatory 30 percent stake in each project, because Brazil took the risks to drill for oil in the pre-salt. But he noted that companies such as Exxon Mobil, Britain’s BG Group, Royal Dutch Shell and Spain’s Repsol are investing billions to develop their share of the new projects.

Luca, the president of the association representing foreign companies, said Petrobras may overextend itself. “We could be limiting the development,” he said.

Far out and deep down

The entire pre-salt region is laced with “elephant fields,” pools holding at least a billion barrels of oil each. Tupi, which in 2006 was the first field found, holds up to 8 billion barrels.

Despite the optimism that Petrobras officials display for visitors, they reel off the challenges: shifting salt, 6,500 feet of it, and working fields so far from the coast that they cannot be reached by helicopter.

Much of the new infrastructure needed to develop the pre-salt is being built here at Angra, and at other shipyards dotting the coast. On a recent day, decked out in a bright-orange jumpsuit and helmet, Roberto Moro, a mechanical engineer, strolled amid giant pontoons weighing 6,000 tons each. He explained how they would be latched together, then topped with a 14,000-ton deck the size of a football field.

The final product, a platform called P-56, will cost $1 billion, he said. And Petrobras will need a fleet of them. “Each platform we are building here, like P-56, represents 10 percent of national oil production,” Moro, 46, explained. That is the equivalent of 180,000 barrels.

Jatropha Takes Root in Brazil

By ROBERT P. WALZERThe New York Times

A worker in Mozambique holding jatropha seeds. Efforts to make jatropha-based biofuel have met with mixed success.

A Brazilian start-up is testing the possibility of implementing a large-scale biofuels project using jatropha, a family of hardy, succulent plants.

The company, BioVentures Brasil, is getting $1 million from the InterAmerican Development Bank for a pilot project on about seven hectares (17 acres) in Bahia, in northeastern Brazil, where it hopes to eventually develop a plantation on 20,000 hectares (49,400 acres) of mostly abandoned cattle-grazing land. The pilot will determine whether the species can adapt to the area’s soil and climate, as well as other factors like how best to work with local communities.

Efforts to make jatropha-based biofuel have met with mixed success elsewhere. A project in Ghana, for example, appears to be moving forward. But in Tanzania, where hopes were also high for a large jatropha-based biofuel project, the government reportedly suspended all biofuel investments recently after concerns arose over food shortages.

Ivan Nuñez, a banker with the I.D.B. who helps vet biofuels investments, said that multilateral lenders like the I.D.B. and the World Bank had turned more cautious on biofuels after their effects on the price and availability of food became apparent. He also noted that commercial long-term financing for such projects had also diminished as oil prices declined from their heights in the summer of 2008.

Still, the I.D.B. sees promise in biofuels, according to Mr. Nuñez, and it is backing seven such projects — two involving waste, three involving sugarcane and two involving jatropha, including the one in Bahia. The bank, however, is treading carefully. It recently created a stricter “Biofuels Sustainability Scorecard’’ to help project developers gauge issues of concern like food security, water management, biodiversity, carbon emissions and indigenous rights.

“We’re very interested in biofuels as long as they don’t compete with food,’’ said Sergio Rivera-Zeballos, the I.D.B. investment officer working on the BioVentures project. “We’re interested in jatropha because it can grow on degraded lands that are not in use for food production and because if it’s successful it could lead the way for a sustainable crop in other locations.’’

BioVentures is backed by EuroVentures, a London- and Sao Paulo-based investment firm active in Brazilian energy projects, and Grupo Vigna Brasil, a Brazilian agribusiness consultancy.

BioVentures hopes to eventually raise about $150 million from investment firms that specialize in agribusiness, and from strategic investors in power production or fuel distribution and refining “who see the benefits of potential carbon credit and sustainability aspects of such a project,’’ Guillaume Sagez and Adrian Calvert, two EuroVentures partners, said in an e-mail. The company aims to sell the fuel to Brazilian and European firms, which would use the jatropha oil to generate electric power.

This month, the company is planting jatropha curcas seeds, a species cited by Goldman Sachs as having among the best potential for biodiesel production. They were supplied by Brazil’s secretary of agriculture, the partners said.

By ROBERT P. WALZER from The New York Times

PhotoEPA Brazil will hold its first wind-only energy auction next month in a move to diversify its energy portfolio. Foreign companies are scrambling to take part.

 

Early this decade, a drought in Brazil that cut water to the country’s hydroelectric dams prompted severe energy shortages. The crisis, which ravaged the country’s economy and led to electricity rationing, underscored Brazil’s pressing need to diversify away from water power.

One result of that introspection will climax on Dec. 14, when the Brazilian government conducts its first wind-only energy auction. The bidding is expected to lead to the construction of two gigawatts of wind production with an investment of about $6 billion over the next two years.

The auction has attracted a number of international players, including the local units of Energias de Portugal, Electricité de France, Spain’s Iberdrola, EnerFin of the United States and several Brazilian companies, among others.

Interest has been so great, in fact, that the Ministry of Mines and Energy, which is conducting the auction, postponed it by three weeks to allow extra time to evaluate the preliminary bids.

“The number of projects proposed were much greater than expected by everyone,’’ said Pedro Perrelli, the executive director of ABEEólica, the Brazilian Wind Energy Association.

Industry and the government had anticipated proposals for 4.5 gigawatts to 6 gigawatts of projects, but “we came to the astonishing number of 13.3 gigawatts’’ from 441 proposals, Mr. Perrelli said. 

Within days, the government plans to release the auction’s technical manual, allowing participants to refine their bids. The winners will get a 20-year power-purchase agreement from the state.

Brazil counts on hydroelectricity for more than three-quarters of its electricity, but authorities are pushing biomass and wind as primary alternatives. Wind energy’s greatest potential in Brazil is during the dry season, so it is considered a hedge against low rainfall and the geographical spread of existing hydro resources.

“In Brazil, wind is very complimentary to hydro,” said João Carlos Mello, the chief executive of Andrade & Canellas, an energy consulting firm advising some bidders in the wind-power auction. “It’s clear that we need to open up our minds beyond hydro.”

Mr. Mello said Brazil’s technical potential for wind energy is 143 gigawatts due to the country’s blustery 4,600-mile coastline, where most projects are based. The Brazilian Wind Energy Association and the government have set a goal of achieving 10 gigawatts of wind energy capacity by 2020 from the current 605 megawatts, with another 450 megawatts under construction, said Mr. Perrelli.

The industry hopes the auction will help kick-start the wind-energy sector, which already accounts for 70 percent of the total in all of Latin America.

Brazil is already a renewable energy leader in the field of ethanol. Hydropower’s growth is increasingly held up over environmental concerns. And growing concerns about Brazil’s deforestation, the effects of climate change and pressure to reduce the country’s carbon emissions also work in wind’s favor.

But Keith Hays, the research director for wind energy at the Cambridge, Mass.-based Emerging Energy Research, a consultant firm to companies on renewable energy, said that uncertainty surrounding the financing and profitability of wind projects in Brazil raises doubts over whether the country can reach its goals.

He attributed the widespread interest in the wind auction to a desire among foreign companies to gain a foothold in Brazil, which is Latin America’s biggest market.

But Mr. Hays said that the lack of a floor on the price the government will pay for energy — as is customary in European countries that are leaders in wind energy, like Germany and Spain — could limit the industry’s growth because the winning projects may prove to be unprofitable.

“Their track record doesn’t speak to a huge success,’’ Mr. Hays said.

Brazil is the world’s tenth largest energy consumer. At the same time, it is an important oil and gas producer in the region and the world’s second largest ethanol fuel producer.

Brazil's Itaipu: world's second largest dam for hydroelectricity

Brazil's Itaipu: world's second largest dam for hydroelectricity

The governmental agencies responsible for energy policy are the Ministry of Mines and Energy (Ministério de Minas e Energia), the National Council for Energy Policy (CNPE), the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (Agência Nacional do Petróleo, Gás Natural e Biocombustíveis – ANP), and the National Agency of Electricity (Agência Nacional de Energia Elétrica – ANEEL). State-owned companies Petrobras and Eletrobrás are the major players in Brazil’s energy sector, as well as Latin America’s.

Its energy comes mostly from renewable sources, particularly hydroelectricity and ethanol; and nonrenewable sources, such as oil and natural gas. A global power in agriculture and natural resources, Brazil unleashed the greatest burst of prosperity that it has witnessed in three decades.

The discovery of potentially massive reserves of oil and gas off its coast in 2007 seems set to transform the Brazil’s position as an energy superpower and the government says it plans to join Opec in the near future.

As a result, the Latin American giant appears to be perfectly set up to deal with the energy challenges of the next century.

You can see an interactive map about Brazil’s energy sources here.