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Gas Pipelines Urucu-Coari-Manaus & Urucu-Porto Velho - Petrobras, Brazil


To end oil industry dependence on river transportation, the Brazilian company Petrobras planned the construction of a natural gas pipeline from Urucu to Manaus in the Amazonas State, at the heart of the rainforest. The first route was completed in 1998 between Urucu and Coari.

Later on, Petrobras announced its willingness to construct the second layout from Coari to Manaus but also to connect Urucu to Porto Velho, in the Rondonia State, also through a new natural gas pipeline.

It is in 2002 when local indigenous communities, fishermen, environmental associations and civil society organizations raised their voices, opposing the two pipeline projects. All these groups shared common concerns about a settlers’ invasion, the danger of deforestation as well as soil and water contamination. Social opposition was also triggered by the experiences suffered in Coari, whose inhabitants were facing the severe impacts of the first pipeline layout, such as the increase of prostitution (even children’s prostitution), drugs’ use and infectious diseases’ spread [1 & 2].

Petrobras went on with its project and finalized the whole pipeline from Urucu to Manaus by the end of 2009. Even after the finalization of the pipeline, social opposition remained vivid due to the ongoing planning for the pipeline between Urucu and Porto Velho and also the gas pipeline between Jurua and Urucu. While the pipeline between Jurua and Urucu is still pending, the pipeline from Urucu to Porto Velho has been constructed, after a delay provoked by the 14 recommendations expressed by the Federal Public Ministry to Petrobras [3].

Numerous indigenous communities are affected by this second pipeline such as the Palmari, the Apuriná, the Katukina, the Juma, and the Cunirá Takutina peoples as well as the isolated people from Jacareúb. Amazon Watch and Friends of the Earth Brazil pointed out critics to the public hearings carried out by Petrobras in 2002, critics expressed by the indigenous communities themselves [4].

This pipeline construction was justified by the need to provide energy to produce electricity in Manaus, and other municipalities. Manaus is the capital of the Amazonas State. Located in the middle of the rainforest, the state's capital records 2 million inhabitants. the city doubled its population in the 2000's decade. Manaus fast and growing industrialization is at the origin of this expansion.

The pipeline project is to be understood as part of a broader context where the rainforest fossil fuels' drilling is increasing. This trend was highly feared by environmentalists opposing the pipeline before its construction. What's more, by pushing further the rainforest frontier, the natural resources are made available for ranchers, settlers, and/or illegal miners and loggers. The whole State, at the very heart of the rainforest, is subject to oil and gas fields explorations/exploitations and electricity plants. As for instance, a gas plant was built in Urucu (financed by JEMIX) and an environmental impact assessment was carried out for the construction of a new gas pipeline connecting the isolated gas field of Jurua to Urucu. Now connected by the pipeline, Urucu provides enough sources of energy to Manaus. Jurua's gas would be sent to Porto Velho [5]. Indeed, Urucu was also connected to Porto Velho by another new 522.2km long pipeline started in 2010, connecting the Amazonas and Rondonia States.

Basic Data

NameGas Pipelines Urucu-Coari-Manaus & Urucu-Porto Velho - Petrobras, Brazil
ProvinceState of Amazonas and State of Rondonia
Sitefrom Manaus to Porto Velho
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific CommoditiesCrude oil
Natural Gas

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsThe Urucu-Manaus natural gas pipeline, built by the Brazilian company Petrobras was 670 km (416 miles) long, and was inaugurated on November 26th, 2009.

The first piece of the pipeline, between Urucu and Coari, totalizing 280 km, was built in 1998, and was contracted to the OAS/Etesco Consortium. The two following stages started in 2004 and connected Coari to Anamã (196 km long); and then Anamã to Manaus, contracted to the Camargo Correa/Skanska Consortium.

Initially, the pipeline would transport 4,7 million cubic metres of natural gas per day.
Type of PopulationUnknown
Start Date2002
Company Names or State Enterprises Petróleo Brasileiro S.A (PETROBRAS) from Brazil
Transpetro from Brazil - operates the pipeline since it is has been finalized
Transportadora Urucu-Manaus from Brazil
El Paso Energy International from United States of America - granted a license for the construction of Urucu / Porto Velho pipeline
Skanska from Sweden - contracted to build the pipeline from Anam to Manaus
Termogas from Italy - involved in the Urucu / Porto Velho pipeline
Relevant government actorsBoth pipelines are part of the Federal Government ongoing Brazil Advances program, financed by the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES). Amazonas' State Federal Government, IBAMA: Brazilian Environmental Agency, Federal Public Ministry of Brazil
International and Financial InstitutionsBanco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES) from Brazil
Jexim Bank from Japan - financing a gas plant in Urucu
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAmigos da Terra: Brasil, CPT (Comisso Pastoral da Terra): Brasil, Indigenous Organisations of the Alto Madeira Communities, Amazon Watch, Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) - Brazil

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingNeighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Informal workers
Local ejos
Fisher people
Trade unions
Industrial workers
International ejos
Indigenous communities of Palmari, the Apuriná, the Katukina, the Juma, and the Cunirá Takutina peoples as well as the isolated people from Jacareúb
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Infectious diseases, Other Health impacts
OtherIADS virus, drugs' consumption, domestic violence
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Specific impacts on women, Increase in violence and crime, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..)
Potential: Land dispossession, Other socio-economic impacts


Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Criminalization of activists
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Local residents, fishermen, environmental groups and civil society organizations opposed this project. However, in September 2005 the project was approved and in June 2006 the pipeline construction began and the pipeline was opened in 2009.

Sources and Materials


Geopolitica de los recursos naturales y acuerdos comerciales en sudamerica, Fobomade, 2005.

Asuntos Indigenas 2-3/2006 Pueblos Indgenas e Hidrocarburos, Iwgia, 2006.

Petrobras: Integracin o explotacin?, FASE, 2005.

Brazil Energy Data, Statistics and Analysis - Oil, Gas, Electricity, Coal, Oil Watch Sudamerica, January 2011

New Pipelines Threaten Intact Amazon Rainforests in Brazil The Dark Side of President Cardoso ’s “Advance Brazil Plan”: Carving Energy Grids in the Heart of the Brazilian Amazon, Amazon Watch Report, 2001

Amazone Watch Annual Report, 2002

[1] Excavando hacia el desastre - el gasoducto de Urucu en Brasil hace caso omiso de la historia, Informe de Amigos de la Tierra Internacional, 2002

[2] Petroleo en Brasil, 2001, Oilwatch

[3] Urucu-Porto Velho Gas Pipeline

[4] Brasil: el Gas de Urucu en Boletin de Red Oilwatch : RESISTENCIA A GASODUCTOS, 10/2002


O banco nacional do desenvolvimento

Amigos da Terra – Amazônia Brasileira

Comissão Pastoral da Terra

Gasoduto Urucu-Coari-Manaus, Petrobras (Portuguese)

BRAZIL: License for Urucu-Porto Velho gas pipeline suspended by judge, Cultural Survival

Uruco-Porto Velho pipeline: oil in Amazon blood, Salva le foreste, 29/06/2010

[5] New gas pipeline prompts fears for Amazon rainforest, D. Carrington, The Guardian, 05/08/2010

Urucu-Manaus Gas Pipeline, Skanska

Amigos da terra promove audiência pública sobre gasoduto, Povos indigenas no Brasil, 02/2002

Media Links

Map showing the pipelines existing in Brasil (and Latin-America)

Other Documents

Urucu-Manaus pipeline cutting across the Amazon rainforest Democracia & Politica Blogspot

Arara pole, on the the Urucu oilfield Source: The Guardian, Antonio Scorza/AFP

Meta Information

ContributorLucie Greyl & Camila Rolando Mazzuca
Last update21/01/2016



The Guardian

Pipeline International

Democracia & Politica Blogspot