April 3 (UPI) -- The oil basins off the coast of Brazil are among the best prospects in the world, German energy company Wintershall said after the latest auction.
The Brazilian government offered nearly 50 licenses in the latest round of auctions for rights to drill offshore. Wintershall will serve as the operator at four of the license areas and has a participating role in three others.
Thilo Wieland, a Wintershall board member in charge of South America, said Tuesday the geology offshore Brazil holds great promise.
"The coast of Brazil is considered one of the most promising oil regions in the world," he said in a statement. "The blocks show huge potential."
The auction raised more than $2.4 billion for the 22 blocks awarded. No offers were made for onshore concessions. Brazil's National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels said the auction surpassed its expectations, with 13 companies from 11 countries taking part.
Among the supermajors, Exxon Mobil took control over six of the eight blocks awarded in Brazil's latest auction, increasing its footing to the point that its one of the largest stakeholders in the South American country. Steve Greenlee, Exxon's president for exploration, said the blocks awarded are "highly prospective."
Brazil ranks second behind Venezuela in terms of proven oil reserves in South America. Its Libra field alone holds between 8 billion and 12 billion barrels of recoverable reserves. By the middle of last year, the country had already produced an average of 3.3 million barrels per day in oil and other petroleum liquids. That was up from the full-year 2016 average of 3.2 million barrels per day.
Wintershall said initial exploration at the blocks it secured is scheduled for next year. Exxon acquires seismic data that will give it a better understanding of the reserve potential later this year.