U.S., Brazil zero in on drilling, biofuels in bilateral meeting

President Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said Monday they hoped to boost cooperation between the nations on energy matters ranging from oil and gas development to renewable power.

Following a bilateral meeting between the two leaders in Washington, the two zeroed in on oil and natural gas and biofuels as areas on which they saw promise for additional cooperation. The two nations both engage in deepwater drilling and are far and away the world’s largest producers of ethanol, which is increasingy being used in transportation fuel.

“Brazil has been a extraordinary leader in biofuels, and obviously is also becoming a world player when it comes to oil and gas development,” Obama said, according to an event transcript. “And the United States is not only a potential large customer to Brazil, but we think that we can cooperate closely on a whole range of energy projects together.”

The leaders said they want to build on work done as part of the Strategic Energy Dialogue between the two nations on fostering cooperation on oil, natural gas, biofuels, renewables and efficiency.

The dialogue seeks “to support the two countries’ common goals of developing safe, secure and affordable supplies of energy for economic growth, energy security, and the transition to a clean energy economy,” the White House said in a statement.

Cooperation on biofuels has included bilateral and multilateral efforts to boost research and development, as well as harmonize standards and boost deployment of biofuels in aviation, according to the White House.

BP and Royal Dutch Shell have invested billions combined in the Brazilian ethanol sector, which uses sugarcane as the main feedstock, amid growing world demand for biofuels.

U.S. ethanol exports in 2011 reached a record high and helped to partially offset a drop-off in Brazilian production brought on by a poor harvest of sugarcane, according to the Energy Information Administration. Most U.S. ethanol comes from corn.

Rousseff welcomed the recent expiration of a longtime U.S. tariff on imports of ethanol. Rousseff also touted oil and gas as “a tremendous opportunity for further cooperation, both as regards the supply of equipment and provision of services, and also as regards a wider role in our trade relations,” according to remarks translated from Portuguese.

The two nations have been sharing information and sought to collaborate on a range of issues concerning offshore drilling, including safety and oil-spill response, according to the White House.