Step Right Up and Watch Brazil's Energy Show

If you're an energy buff, the action in Brazil can seem a bit frenetic.

For starters, Petrobras (NYSE: PBR  ) , the state-controlled oil company, has announced yet another discovery in the deepwater Santos Basin. The well was started in 7,100 feet of water, and then drilled three miles into the salt layer. At this point, it's far too early for Petrobras and its partners, BG Group and Spain's Repsol (NYSE: REP  ) , to make predictions about potential reserves from the well, which is called Abare Oeste. It follows on the heels of the Guara discovery, which could contain as much as 2 billion barrels of oil equivalent.   

At the same time, a proposal by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva that would give the government, through Petrobras, increased control over activities in the Santos Basin continues to receive intense discussion. As something of an olive branch, Sergio Gabrielli, the CEO of Petrobras, is on a journey to convince U.S. and European companies that, should the new proposal become law, the companies will be treated fairly and will continue to play a major role in the development of the fields.

I'm assuming that his itinerary includes the likes of ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) and Anadarko (NYSE: APC  ) , both of which have been active in his country. At this point, it doesn't appear that other companies have joined Shell (NYSE: RDS-A  ) in swearing off additional investments in Brazil until its political picture is clarified.

Beyond that, the Petrobras board has approved a plan that would involve the hiring of as many as 28 new ultra-deepwater drilling rigs, all of which would be built in Brazilian shipyards. The first portion would involve the construction of at least nine rigs in the same shipyard, seven of which would be vessel-type rigs.

In addition, Petrobras would charter other rigs from existing operators. Those rigs also would be built by the operators in Brazilian yards. Surprisingly, the guidelines for building and chartering the rigs could be disclosed as early as this month.

Thus far, there haven't been comments about the rig plan from Transocean (NYSE: RIG  ) or Diamond Offshore (NYSE: DO  ) , two primary deepwater drillers. Nevertheless, I'm beginning to feel that in watching the nonstop energy activity in Brazil, I'm becoming winded. Still, given Petrobras's uncanny record of success down deep, I continue to believe the company deserves the continued attention of Fools with a thirst for energy.

Petrobras wears a full five Motley Fool CAPS stars. Why not check out the company and give a thumbs-up (or -down) signal on where you think the stock is headed?

Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. Petroleo Brasileiro is a Motley Fool Income Investor selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Fool has a disclosure policy that keeps on ticking 10,000 feet beneath the surface. 


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