Petroleum and Science: The National Petroleum Council and the Development of Oil Geology in Brazil

  • Natascha de Vasconcellos OtoyaEmail author
Part of the Historical Geography and Geosciences book series (HIGEGE)


Oil geology as a scientific field has developed in parallel with the start of oil exploration in Brazil at the end of the 1930s. This chapter analyzes some features of this process. It focuses on different aspects of the activities of the National Petroleum Council (CNP in Portuguese). In Brazil, the development of this scientific field was supported by a State agency, networks of scientists, private companies, and universities—both Brazilian and foreign. This suggests that there were political, economic, and ideological interests at stake in the production of new scientific knowledge. The political context of scientific production, the networks through which this production circulates, and the purposes for which it is used are crucial to the understanding of a creole science. A term coined by environmental historian Stuart McCook creole science encompasses both the impact other spheres have in the production of scientific knowledge and the on-the-ground experience of this production. It also considers the intersections of nature, scientific discoveries, politics, economics, and nationalism. Such reflections are essential for an analysis of the development of the Brazilian field of oil geology. Here we will analyze a previously unreleased collection of documents of the CNP. The studies, exchanges, and breakthroughs made by both Brazilian and foreign scientists reveal these interactions and contribute to a broader understanding of the field.


  1. de Carvalho JM (2002) A Escola de Minas de Ouro Preto: o peso da glória. Belo Horizonte: Editora UFMG, 2nd editionGoogle Scholar
  2. de Dias JLM, Quaglino MA (1993) A questão do petróleo no Brasil: uma história da PETROBRAS. Rio de Janeiro: CPDOC/ PETROBRASGoogle Scholar
  3. de Figueirôa SFM (1997) As ciências geológicas no Brasil: uma história social e institucional, 18751934. São Paulo: Editora HucitecGoogle Scholar
  4. de Moura P, Carneiro F (1976) Em Busca do Petróleo Brasileiro. Ouro Preto: Fundação GorceixGoogle Scholar
  5. Guedes SV (1992) Avelino Ignácio de Oliveira (1891–1991). Revista da Escola de Minas, 45 (1–2)Google Scholar
  6. Lobato M (1951) O escândalo do Petróleo. São Paulo: Editora BrasilienseGoogle Scholar
  7. McCook S (2002) States of Nature—science, agriculture and the environment in the Spanish Caribbean, 1760–1940. University of Texas Press, AustinGoogle Scholar
  8. Oliveira IR (2003) Missão Cooke: Estado Novo e a implantação da CSN. Rio de Janeiro: E-papersGoogle Scholar
  9. Raj K (2007) Relocating modern science: circulation and the construction of knowledge in South Asia and Europe, 1650–1900. Palgrave Macmillan, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Victor M (1970) A batalha do petróleo brasileiro. Rio de Janeiro: Civilização BrasileiraGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryGeorge Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations