A major strike in Brazil against a planned public sale of the rights to explore a massive offshore oilfield near Rio de Janeiro has disrupted oil production in the Latin American country.
According to the Brazilian oil industry’s labor union leaders, 90 percent of workers employed by the state-owned oil company Petrobras participated in the strike on Thursday, affecting 42 oil platforms and a number of refineries.
Union authorities have taken legal measures to avert the public sale on Monday, arguing that auctioning the exploration of the undersea Libra oilfield would harm national interests by permitting foreign-based corporations to share production rights with Petrobras.
The development comes as 40,000 Petrobras employees are further demanding a wage increase as well as changes to company plans to contract out some its services to private entities.
Meanwhile, Petrobras announced in a statement that it had adopted “all the measures needed to guarantee operations and the supply of products to the market.”
Moreover, demonstrators waged protest rallies outside the Petrobras headquarters in Rio de Janeiro and government buildings in the capital, Brasilia, reportedly preventing Brazil’s Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao from accessing his ministry for work on Thursday.
The Libra field is a deepwater oilfield in the Santos basin and is part of massive oil reserves discovered in 2010 some 230km (140 miles) off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.
Petrobras is among six major foreign corporations bidding for Libra’s exploration rights that include: China National Petroleum Corporation, Anglo-Dutch Shell, Colombia’s Ecopetrol, France’s Total, China National Offshore Oil Corporation and a consortium made up of Spain’s Repsol and China’s Sinopec.