RIO DE JANEIRO – Alleged US espionage targeting the Brazilian oil company Petrobras will not delay an oil field auction scheduled for next month, a government official was quoted as saying Tuesday.
The auction of rights to work the vast deepwater field called Libra is still scheduled for October 21, said Magda Chambriard of the National Oil Agency.
“I have just come from Asia, where we made a presentation to investors in China and Japan and there is great interest,” she told the newspaper O Globo. “This espionage news does not affect anything.”
She said the information that the National Oil Agency generates for the auction is public and all potential bidders have the same access, she said.
The Brazilian TV station Globo reported Sunday that Petrobras was among entities that the US National Security Agency had labeled as a “target”, although the extent and nature of the alleged snooping was not known.
Globo said the revelation was based on documents leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden to Rio-based British journalist Glenn Greenwald.
The finding of the enormous Libra field marked the largest oil discovery in Brazilian history. It is believed to hold between eight and 12 billion barrels of recoverable oil, and covers an area of 1,500 square kilometers in ultra deep oil fields detected in 2007.
The auction will be for a 35-year non-renewable concession to work the field.
By way of comparison, Brazil’s Marlim field, now the largest in operation with daily production of 600,000 barrels, has a recoverable volume of two billion barrels.
President Dilma Rousseff said Monday that the alleged NSA spying on Petrobras could be due to economic and strategic interests, and she warned she would act to protect her country.
Petrobras said it has sophisticated and regularly updated systems to shield its internal communications.
Brazil has said it expects an explanation of the alleged espionage from President Barack Obama.
Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo is to meet Wednesday or Thursday in Washington with National Security Adviser Susan Rice to talk about the case.