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Senate postpones vote on Petrobras bill due to lack of debate

2 July, 2015The Brazilian Senate met on 30 June to vote on bill PLS 131/2015 under the Senate’s urgent business procedure, when a bill goes directly to a plenary vote without being examined by technical committees. The bill would remove Petrobras’ exclusive rights to exploit the Pre-Salt oilfields. However, the Senate decided to postpone voting as it felt a more detailed debate was necessary.

In a letter to senators, sent a few hours before the Senate meeting, Jyrki Raina, IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary, said:

“We are convinced that Petrobras will overcome the challenges it faces and continue its task of promoting greater social justice and democracy in Brazil. We ask you to vote against this bill”.

If approved, the bill would mean that Petrobras would no longer be the only operator in the Pre-Salt oilfields. The urgent business procedure for bill PLS 131/2015 began on 16 June, with the Senate due to vote on the bill at the end of the debate at the 30 June session. However, voting did not take place because many of those present spoke against the procedure and refused to vote without a more extensive debate taking place first.

The request to postpone the voting did not come only from senators who are against the bill, for example, Roberto Requião, but also from those in favour, such as Senators Lúcia Vânia and Cristovam Buarque. Both called for more debate on the bill.

Petrobras should be strengthened rather than weakened

Lula da Silva’s government passed law 12.351/2010, which gave Petrobras exclusive rights over the exploitation of the Pre-Salt oilfields. This was a major achievement for the Brazilian people. It also stipulated that royalties would be used to implement health and education plans and other social reform plans of the Workers’ Party.

Bill PLS 131/2015 to end Petrobras’ exclusive rights to exploit the Pre-Salt oilfields was submitted by former PSDB presidential candidate José Serra. The bill proposes privatising oil wells in the Pre-Salt deep water oilfields in the Atlantic Ocean, which hold Brazil’s biggest reserves of crude oil.

IndustriALL is against the bill, which promotes the interests of foreign multinational companies and reduces the role of Petrobras in the Pre-Salt oilfields. If the bill is defeated: “Brazil can grow and make progress towards energy and environmental sovereignty, control production and ensure supplies to the country. It will also avoid predatory extraction, the risk of accidents and higher financial costs in the future”, said Jyrki Raina in the letter presented to the Senate.

IndustriALL Global Union considers, that, as Petrobras provides thousands of jobs in Brazil and throughout the world, it should be strengthened rather than weakened. It should stay in public ownership and guarantee energy sovereignty, economic development and social progress.