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Big Oil Bets Big On Brazil’s Pre-Salt In Latest Offshore Auction

Some of the world’s biggest oil companies bid aggressively in Brazil’s latest offshore bid round on Thursday, snapping up acreage in three blocks in the coveted pre-salt layer, despite the recent turmoil in the country’s oil industry and renewed anxiety over political meddling in the energy sector.

Various consortia consisting of ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, and Equinor (formerly Statoil) won the rights to explore three blocks in the Santos and Campos basins, alongside Brazil’s state-owned oil firm Petrobras, in the fourth Production Sharing Round held today.

A consortium of Petrobras, Chevron, and Shell won the Três Marias block; Petrobras, Petrogal Brasil, Equinor, and ExxonMobil won the right to develop the Uirapuru block; and Petrobras, Equinor, and BP were the winners of the Dois Irmãos block.

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The bidding raised US$818.5 million (3.15 billion Brazilian reais) in signing bonuses for the Brazilian state, and US$192 million (738 million Brazilian reais) in planned investments in the exploration phase, the country’s oil regulator ANP said while announcing the results.

“The prolific basins offshore Brazil represents world class exploration acreage. The results from this and previous bid rounds have added highly prospective acreage to Equinor’s exploration portfolio, allowing us to maintain a significant activity and pursue high value prospects in Brazil in the years ahead,” Tim Dodson, Equinor’s executive vice president for exploration, said.

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“Brazil continues to represent a key investment for ExxonMobil, and we look forward to exploring and developing its world-class resources with our co-venturers and the government,” said Steve Greenlee, president of ExxonMobil Exploration Company.

At the end of March, Exxon snapped up eight exploration blocks offshore Brazil, leading Big Oil’s aggressive move on acreage next to the coveted pre-salt layer.

Today’s auction came just as Petrobras CEO Pedro Parente resigned last week, after nationwide trucker strikes forced the government to cut diesel prices and after oil workers demanded that Brazil end the one-year-old policy to allow fuel prices be dictated by the market and international crude oil benchmarks.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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