Brazil denies Total license to drill Amazon basin for fourth time

FILE PHOTO: A logo is pictured at French oil and gas company Total gas station in Marseille, February 11, 2015. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian environmental agency Ibama on Tuesday rejected French oil company Total SA’s application for an environmental license to drill in the ecologically sensitive Foz do Amazonas basin.

It is the fourth time that Ibama has rejected the application and requested additional information.

Ibama said when denying the application for a third time in August that it would give Total one last chance to clarify the application before suspending the process.

On Tuesday, however, it said it would seek more information as “new facts” had come to light.

Total SA did not immediately respond to request for comment.

An expedition last month by environmental activists Greenpeace documented coral in the area where Total plans to drill, following the earlier discovery of a massive coral reef nearby.

The agency’s refusals to accept Total’s environmental impact study has held up the company’s quest to explore the offshore basin for more than four years. The basin could contain up to 14 billion barrels of petroleum, or more than the entire proven reserves in the Gulf of Mexico, according to geologists.

Reporting by Jake Spring; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Rosalba O’Brien