>> A vast marine area in Brazil's extreme north, called the Foz do Amazonas Basin, may have some of the largest hidden deep sea oil reserves in all of South America. But oil companies hoping to drill there and strike it rich face plenty of challenges. Reuters' correspondent, Marta Nogueira, travelled there.
>> I'm in Brazil's extreme north in Oyapock City. If you look behind me, we can see the French Guiana and the Oyapock River. This river flows into the Atlantic Ocean waters on the coast of Amapas Estate where the major oil company Total plans to start to drill this year.
>> But what could derail Total's plans is a massive system of coral reefs, just miles away from where the French firm and its partners, BP and Brazilian state oil company Petroleo Brasileiro, plan to drill. Researchers say the reef, discovered just a year after Total's consortium paid $196 million to Brazil's government to explore part of the area, may be home to entirely new species, including a type of brightly colored tropical butterfly fish.
Environmentalist feared that a major oil discovery could entail widespread pollution in this sensitive region.>>
> It will be disturbing because if there is an oil spillage, bye bye, fish.
>> But desperate residents of Amapa are also eager for the potential benefits from the oil industry, hoping it brings jobs to a state with the highest unemployment rate last year. Still, fishermen in the region fear it may hurt their livelihoods.>>
What are we fishermen going to live off of? That will be disturbing, they are not being responsible in this sense.>> Brazil's federal environmental agency, IBAMA, is expected to give Total the green light to start drilling. But no word yet on when that could happen, as Brazil faces a balancing act between boosting the economy and protecting fragile ecosystems.