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Ambassador welcomes Pa., Brazilian cooperation on energy

By , - Last modified: March 5, 2013 at 9:30 AM
Brazilian Ambassador Mauro Vieira, left, speaks as state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer, right, looks on during an investor briefing Thursday at the Team Pennsylvania Foundation offices in Harrisburg. Photo/Tim Stuhldreher
Brazilian Ambassador Mauro Vieira, left, speaks as state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer, right, looks on during an investor briefing Thursday at the Team Pennsylvania Foundation offices in Harrisburg. Photo/Tim Stuhldreher

Brazil is highly interested in how Pennsylvania's natural-gas industry has developed and is eager to explore ways of cooperating on energy development when Gov. Tom Corbett visits next month, the Brazilian ambassador to the U.S., Mauro Vieira, told business leaders attending the Team Pennsylvania Foundation's investor exchange brunch.

"I'm sure we can learn a lot from the experience of the state of Pennsylvania and I'm sure that partnership in this area will be very, very important for us," Vieira said.

In November, Corbett's office announced the governor would lead a trade mission to Brazil and Chile. The privately funded "Jobs First Mission" takes place April 6-16 and is being coordinated by the Department of Community and Economic Development and Team Pennsylvania Foundation.

Corbett's visit to Brazil will be the first by a Pennsylvania governor, Vieira said. The ambassador's local appearance Thursday was in support of the trade mission and was attended by about two dozen business leaders and state officials.

Brazil is planning major auctions of shale gas and oil reserves toward the end of the year, Vieira said. Projections indicate the country will be able to produce 4 million barrels of oil a day within 10 years, as well as sharply increased volumes of shale gas, he said.

Located under deep-water salt formations, the oil reserves are known as subsalt reserves and will be technically challenging to recover.

Like Pennsylvania, Brazil will have to build vast new networks of midstream and downstream infrastructure to take full advantage of its energy resources, said Fernando Musa, CEO of Braskem America, the U.S. arm of Braskem, the massive Brazilian petrochemical company.

"The companies that have been working in Pennsylvania … have been facing challenges similar to what Brazil will have to face," Musa said.

Such companies will have attractive opportunities to apply their expertise and invest in Brazil, he said. Conversely, Pennsylvania's abundant cheap energy, well-developed infrastructure and proximity to northeastern U.S. markets should make it attractive to Brazilian chemical companies that want to expand into North America, he said.

Gov. Corbett sees the energy sector as Pennsylvania's hope for the future, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer said, adding that he shares that view.

"We have another opportunity to have a Declaration of Independence," Krancer said. "It's energy independence."

The trade mission will be Corbett's second, following a six-day trip in March 2012 to France and Germany.

The Team Pennsylvania Foundation is a public-private organization aimed at facilitating cooperation between business and state government.

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