Norwegian energy company Statoil said Friday it secured formal approval from the Brazilian government to work in the offshore Espirito Santo oil basin.
"The new license is another building block for further value creation," Andre Leite, Statoil's regional manager, said in a statement. "We look forward to working closely together with the operator in the appraisal and further development of the asset."
There may be as much as 50 billion barrels of oil offshore Brazil, putting it just behind Venezuela in terms of proven oil reserves in South America.
Statoil said the approval extends to the Sao Bernardo discovery in the basin off Brazil's coast. The company declined to indicate a reserve estimate, but said the area "has an exciting oil potential."
Statoil said an appraisal well drilled into the region in 2012 encountered an oil column measuring more than 600 feet thick.
The Norwegian said it’s the largest international oil company operating in Brazilian waters.