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EXCLUSIVE-Petrobras to amend pre-salt riser contract with TechnipFMC

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 23 (Reuters) - Petróleo Brasileiro SA is in talks to amend terms of a contract on pipeline connections supplied by TechnipFMC Plc to ensure smooth exploration and production activities at the Brazilian oil company's most promising offshore development, a Petrobras spokeswoman said.

State-controlled Petrobras is now seeking a double coating on "risers," or connections for flexible underwater pipelines, after it closed a $300 million contract with TechnipFMC a almost year ago to supply the equipment, the spokeswoman said.

The cost for the change, which would be made through a contract addendum, is still being negotiated by Petrobras and TechnipFMC's Brazilian unit, according to the spokeswoman. The talks follow two failures, which occurred in gas injection pipeline connections after the contract was signed.

The problems, which occurred in Lula and Sapinhoá - Petrobras' top two producing fields in the so-called pre-salt region - led technicians to begin investigating the flaws and monitoring other pipeline connections in pre-salt areas.

Petrobras production and technology development director Roberto Moro played down the probability of problems caused by the incidents.

The situation underscores the challenges facing Petrobras as it seeks to ramp up output of pre-salt oil and gas, which has heavy carbon dioxide content, in deep waters. Pre-salt refers to deep-sea oil resources off Brazil's coast, trapped beneath a layer of mineral salts under the seabed.

The risk of an environmental accident "is minimal and close to zero, because we are talking about gas risers rather than oil. There is also no risk to production," Moro said in an interview.

TechnipFMC declined to comment. A separate Petrobras spokeswoman said the firm had not released a statement about the riser issues when they occurred but informed authorities and journalists seeking information on the matter. (Writing by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Tom Brown)