Brazil's national oil regulator, ANP, could hold the country's next round of oil and natural gas exploration auctions in August if the plan is approved later this month, news that could set the stage for intense bidding as more of the world's oil majors look to tap into the country's growing reserves.
Petrobras (PBR), Brazil's state-run oil company, has typically won the most lucrative exploration and production contracts awarded by the government, but there are several American and European oil majors currently operating in Brazil and there are undoubtedly more looking to expand their footprint's in the country.
An ANP official also said the approval of BP's (PBR) plan to buy Devon Energy's (DVN) Brazilian assets should be approved before the Easter holiday. BP and Devon announced the deal last year, but Brazil's government has been slow to approve it following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill last April.
Brazil is South America's second-largest oil producer behind OPEC member Venezuela. ANP has estimated Brazil's pre-salt fields hold about 50 billion barrels of reserves, but a separate study released in January put the number at 123 billion barrels.