RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil raised 70 billion reais (around $17.5 billion) in an oil auction on Wednesday, in which it only managed to sell two of four blocks on offer, both to a consortium led by Petrobras and including China’s CNODC and CNOOC.
In the largest oil auction conducted in the history of Brazil, the South American country did not earn the 106.5 billion reais ($ 26.6 billion) that the government predicted, with no bidders for two of the blocks, Atapu and Sepia.
The big winner of the day was the Brazilian state-owned company Petrobras, which in consortium with the Chinese companies obtained the Buzios area, the most sought after in the auction, and the Itapu block, on which it was the only bidder.
In the consortium that was presented for the Buzios area, Petrobras has a 90% stake, while CNODC and CNOOC each hold 5%.
The Brazilian-Chinese consortium was the only one that submitted offers for that block and bid 68.19 billion reais ($17.13 billion) for the license and will give the state a share in its profits of 23.24%, the minimum required by the Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP).
Buzios, in the Santos basin, is the second most productive area of Brazil’s pre-salt area, where large oil reserves in deep water are trapped beneath a layer of salt two kilometers thick under the ocean floor which could make the country the world’s fifth largest hydrocarbon exporter.
With 54 wells already drilled, it was the only one of the four blocks auctioned on Wednesday that is currently productive, with a yield of 424,000 barrels a day of oil.
Petrobras was the only bidder for the Itapu area and bid 1.77 billion reais ($441.5 million) for the license and will give the Brazilian state an 18.15% share in its profits, which was also the minimum required by the regulator.
Unlike Buzios, Itapu already has three wells drilled but is not in production.
Based on the rights of preference granted by law, Petrobras will be the operator of both fields, with the state responsible for the conduct and execution of all activities carried out in the pre-salt areas.
Although 14 multinationals in the sector signed up for the auction, only seven ended up participating.
In addition to Petrobras, American Exxon Mobil, Norwegian Equinor, Chinese corporations CNODC and CNOOC, Portuguese Petrogral and Colombian Ecopetrol participated, but only the Brazilian company made offers.
The four areas offered in the auction can jointly produce 1.2 million barrels a day of oil and generate, 52.5 billion reais (about $13.13 billion) annually in royalties as of 2024, according to ANP.