Understanding organizational and institutional changes for management of environmental affairs in the Brazilian petroleum sector
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This article analyzes how governments and an oil company adapted their institutional and organizational frameworks to manage actual and potential environmental impacts of oil-related activities in Brazil. Two major factors are important for understanding these changes. First, the monopoly of the state to explore and produce oil is over. Foreign companies have entered Brazil and increased the competitiveness of the oil sector. Second, major oil spills into waterways in recent years resulted in severe fines and an increasing outcry from government and civil society representatives for greater control over oil activities. These two factors raised a debate about what are, or should be, the roles of various stakeholders involved in controlling oil activities and their impacts on the environment. Legislative changes assigned different roles to the state oil company, to a newly created regulatory agency, to the Navy and to federal and state environmental agencies. Because many of the legal changes were not well defined, accountability among institutional actors remained unclear and institutional conflicts about who is accountable for what were likely to occur. As well, government organizations, public prosecutors, media and civil society increasingly influenced the regulation of both government agencies and companies. As a result, these responded to regulatory changes and market forces by changing their relations with external stakeholders and their organizational arrangements for environmental management. This article identifies some of the institutional conflicts in selected case studies from the oil industry, the difficulties in clarifying regulatory roles within the industry, and responses in terms of the environmental strategies of regulatory bodies and oil companies, specifically the Brazilian state company, Petrobras. © 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.