Oil Report

Brazil OKs building of $17 bln Amazon power dam

 * Brazil agency OKs start-up of huge dam in Amazon
 * Consortium has go-ahead to clear forest, start site
 SAO PAULO, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Brazil's environment agency
approved on Wednesday the start-up of the Belo Monte power dam,
a controversial $17 billion project in the Amazon that has
drawn criticism from native Indians and conservationists.
 The agency, Ibama, issued licenses to the consortium in
charge of Belo Monte to start the construction site and to
clear 238.1 hectares (588 acres) of forest land, about the size
of Monaco.
 The government has said the 11,000-megawatt project, due to
start producing electricity in 2015, is crucial to provide
power to Brazil's fast-growing economy.
 Norte Energia, the consortium that won the auction to build
Belo Monte, is made up of state-run utility holding company
Eletrobras ELET6.SA, Brazil's second-largest pension fund
Petros, and several local construction companies.
 For a factbox on the Belo Monte dam:       [ID:nN20202737]
 For a graphic click on
 Originally conceived 30 years ago, progress on Belo Monte
has been slowed over the years by protests, including an
incident in 2009 in which Kayapo Indians armed with clubs and
machetes attacked a state electricity official.
 Critics from singer Sting to Hollywood director James
Cameron and environmental group Greenpeace have said the dam
will damage the environment and harm thousands of people living
in the region.
 The 6-km-long (3.75-mile) dam will displace 30,000 river
dwellers, partially dry up a 100-km stretch of the Xingu river,
and flood a 500-square-km area three times the size of
Washington D.C.
 (Reporting by Elzio Barreto and Carolina Marcondes; Editing by
Dale Hudson)