BRASILIA, Brazil, May 15 (UPI) -- The Brazilian government said a record number of companies expressed interest in securing oil exploration rights in the Amazon basin.
Brazil is to have its first oil auction in five years for rights to explore the Foz do Amazonas basin in northern Brazil. British energy company BP and French supermajor Total were early winners with awards, Bloomberg News reports.
The Brazilian government attracted more than 60 bidders for the rights to explore 289 blocks in 11 basins in the country. Director of the Brazilian Oil Institute Joao Carlos de Luca told Bloomberg bids could break the 2008 record of $1.1 billion.
"I think it could be more. It will be very competitive," he said.
The blocks up for auction are estimated by the Brazilian government to hold at least 36 billion barrels of oil equivalent, which represents about 14 years worth of domestic energy consumption.
Brazil ranks second behind Venezuela in terms of proven oil reserves in South America. An estimated 50 billion barrels of oil lies off Brazil's coast, a volume that's expected to put the Latin American country on par with the world's top oil producers.