Petrobras applies to swap environmental fines for services

SAO PAULO, (Reuters) – Brazil’s Petróleo Brasileiro SA has applied to federal environmental agency Ibama to provide environmental protection services in exchange for wiping out all its fines for environmental offenses, the state-controlled oil company said late on Saturday.

The move from Petrobras, as the company is known, comes after Brazilian President Michel Temer signed a decree allowing the conversion of such fines to environmental services, with discounts of up to 60 percent of the initially stated penalties.

Petrobras did not say how much it owes in environmental fines, which generally are for oil spills off the Brazilian coast.

The company said it did not yet know how much it would need to spend on the environmental services if its application is accepted.

Some environmental organizations in Brazil criticized Temer’s decree, saying it would increase impunity for crimes in the sector.

Brazilian Environment Minister José Sarney Filho defended the decree, saying most fines are never paid because companies usually appeal them in court.

He said the decree would lead to increased investment in environmental projects.

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