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Brazil Pre-Salt Tenders Attract 10 Oil Companies’ Initial Interest

Two tender rounds for exploration rights in the pre-salt areas of Brazil have attracted the attention of ten oil companies, according to a government official who spoke to Reuters on Thursday.

The second and third rounds of auctions for the area – considered to be one of the world’s most promising oil reserves – will take place on October 27th. Eight blocks in the Santos and Campos basins are up for tender.

"Today we have nine that have expressed interest in the second (auction) and ten that have expressed interest in the third," Waldyr Barrosos, director of the industry watchdog ANP said during an event in Rio de Janeiro.

This means nearly a dozen companies turned in a form expressing their interest in the bidding process. To become officially eligible to participate in the round, the firms would have to submit to a further registration process with Brasilia by September 8th.

The term “pre-salt fields” refers to areas where oil assets are buried under thick layers of salt on the surface of the ocean floor.

Discovered only 10 years ago, Brazil’s pre-salt area has rapidly become the biggest oil-producing area in the country. Just earlier this month, Petrobras discovered commercial oil in a whole new pre-salt area known as the Marlim Sul Field in the Campos Basin, located about 70 miles off the shore of Rio de Janeiro.

Because pre-salt layers—the geological layers that were laid before a layer of salt was created by the Gondwana breakup about 160-180 million years ago—are so deep underground that they are quite costly and difficult to drill. But according to Petroleo Brasileiro SA Chief Executive Officer Pedro Parente, in recent weeks, oil has been extracted from the pre-salt offshore wells at the jaw-dropping cost of just $8 per barrel.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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