Brazil's Round 15 closed yesterday, 29 March 2018, with the award of roughly half of the offshore blocks on offer. The round occurred six months following the closing of rounds 14 and 3 PSC last year, continuing the country's aggressive licensing push.
Commenting on the results of the auction, Horacio Cuenca, research director for Latin America at Wood Mackenzie, said: "In contrast to previous rounds, Round 15 stood out as more diverse, both in terms of companies bidding and geographies bid on. Although improved oil prices played a part, Brazil's recent regulatory improvements clearly had an effect in this round drawing a more diverse group of Majors and large E&Ps, and bids to less established basins."
As expected, all the blocks in the highly prospective Santos and Campos basins, with pre-salt exposure, drew most of the bidding. The Campos basin alone received US$2.3 billion in bonuses. Leading a consortium formed by Petrobras and Qatar Petroleum, ExxonMobil paid US$848 million for block C-M-789, the highest bonus ever paid for a concession block.
ExxonMobil and Petrobras dominated the Round. ExxonMobil acquired stakes in eight deepwater blocks, six with pre-salt leads identified. Six of the blocks are operated and two non-operated in partnership with Petrobras and Statoil.
Petrobras did not present bids in the Santos basin but partnered with ExxonMobil and Statoil to win the two blocks adjacent to Dois Irmaos (an area of PSC Round 4), paying the second-highest individual bonuses of the round (US$1.1 billion together).
In contrast with recent rounds, the less established Potiguar and Ceara basins also saw active bidding, which has not happened since Round 11 in 2013. Low bonus and work commitment levels drew attention to this Equatorial Margin acreage where securing environmental licenses has been difficult in recent years.