A New Energy Leader Brazil Wants to Join OPEC
In 2007, a huge oil reserve was discovered off the coast of Brazil's Rio de Janeiro. The find boosted Brazil's oil reserves by 40 percent and could catapult the South American nation into the top rank of global producers. In an interview with SPIEGEL President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva said that Brazil wants to join the OPEC oil cartel -- a move that could lower petroleum prices worldwide.
Brazil is banking on more than just oil. In the interview, the president emphasizes the country's economic successes. Of particular note are the huge gains Brazil has made in the production of biofuel , especially environmentally friendly ethanol from sugar cane. By 2025, Brazil hopes to supply its own energy needs entirely with ethanol and produce enough of a surplus to fuel 5 percent of the world. "Our production costs are unbeatable," Lula said.
When asked about European plans to increase the production of biofuels at the expense of food crops -- grains in particular -- Lula said Europe should leave biofuel production to others. "It can be done better by us and the Africans," he said. Right now, Europeans and Americans are trying to turn corn and sugar beets into fuel -- a far less efficient process than that used for sugar cane. The results are higher food prices around the world.
"I'd like to see the First World drop agricultural subsidies and lift the high tariffs on imports," Lula said. When German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Brazil on May 13, Lula will encourage her and her European colleagues to pay more attention to South America and "not to fear the Left in Latin America."
SPIEGEL ONLINE will publish the full interview with President Lula next week.