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Brazil: New Developmentalism and the Management of Offshore Oil Wealth

Author:

Giorgio Romano Schutte

Universidade Federal do ABC, BR
About Giorgio
Giorgio Romano Schutte <giorgio.romano@ufabc.edu.br> is Professor of International Relations and Economics at the Universidade Federal do ABC (UFABC) in the metropolitan area of São Paulo, Brazil. At present he is coordinator of the International Relations course. His fields of research include international political economy, geopolitics of energy and Brazil’s political and economic insertion in international relations. He has experience with trade union research and education in Europe and Brazil. He served as undersecretary for International Relations of the municipality of São Paulo (2001-2004), special advisor of the Presidential Office (2004-2006) and coordinator for Latin America of the World Bank administrated programme Cities Alliance (2007-2009). Recent publications: ‘Economia Politica de Petróleo e Gás: a experiência Russa (Political Economy of Oil and Gas in Russia)’, Uma Longa Transição edited by A. Alves (2011); and ‘Neo-developmentalism and the Search of a New International Insertion’, Austral, Brazilian Journal of Strategy and International Relations, Jul/Dec 2012.
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Abstract

Since the 1930s development strategies in Brazil have made reducing its dependence on imported energy one of their priorities. Efforts focused on hydro-electric power, ethanol and oil. Offshore oil exploration by the state oil company Petrobras began in the 1970s and resulted in energy independence by 2006. In the same year, however, unexpectedly large oil reserves were discovered in the so-called Pre-Salt levels, transforming the country into a potential major oil exporter. This new reality creates major challenges for Brazil. New legislation and new policies have been set up to use this opportunity to accelerate development. The discussion on how to make the best use of offshore oil resources is guided by a so-called neo-developmentalism approach, introduced during President Lula’s second term. In practice this means a modest increase in state control with new regulations focused on local content. Special attention should be given to expanding research and development activities. Foreign capital and technology are welcome as long as they are willing to operate in the framework of a national development strategy. This paper will examine the main features and challenges of these new policies within the broader framework of the present discussion on neo-developmentalism in Brazil.

Resumen: Brasil: Nuevo desarrollismo y la gestión de la riqueza petrolífera offshore

Desde los años treinta del siglo pasado, las estrategias de desarrollo en Brasil se han propuesto como una de sus prioridades reducir su dependencia de la energía importada. Los esfuerzos se enfocaron en la energía hidroeléctrica, en el etanol y en el petróleo. Las prospecciones petrolíferas offshore llevadas a cabo por la petrolera estatal Petrobras empezaron en los años setenta y tuvieron como resultado la independencia energética en 2006. Sin embargo, ese mismo año, se descubrieron inesperadamente grandes reservas de petróleo en los niveles llamados pre-sal, que transformaron el país en un importante exportador potencial de petróleo. Esta nueva realidad supone retos importantes para Brasil. Se han puesto en marcha políticas nuevas y una legislación nueva para aprovechar esta oportunidad de acelerar el desarrollo. El debate sobre cómo hacer el mejor uso de los recursos petrolíferos offshore va guiado por un enfoque llamado neodesarrollismo, introducido durante la segunda legislatura del presidente Lula. En la práctica supone un aumento modesto del control estatal mediante nuevas regulaciones enfocadas en el contenido local. Se debe prestar especial atención a ampliar las investigaciones y las actividades de desarrollo. La tecnología y el capital extranjeros son bien recibidos mientras estén dispuestos a operar en el marco de una estrategia de desarrollo nacional. Este artículo examinará las principales características y retos de estas políticas nuevas dentro del marco más amplio del presente debate sobre el neodesarrollismo en Brasil.

DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/erlacs.9230
How to Cite: Schutte, G. R. (2013). Brazil: New Developmentalism and the Management of Offshore Oil Wealth. ERLACS, (95), 49–70. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/erlacs.9230
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Published on 09 Oct 2013.
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