Wires

Big Oil eyes Brazil's next pre-salt round after sitting out TOR

Marianna Parraga and Gram Slattery

RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Brazil's government is hoping for redemption on Thursday, when its sixth pre-salt bidding round brings a new chance to lure major oil firms to the country's most promising offshore region.

Brazil failed on Wednesday to award two of four blocks in the nation's most ambitious oil round ever, as steep signing fees and the dominance of state-run Petrobras in the "transfer-of-rights" (TOR) area scared off oil majors.

Thursday's bidding round will also offer access to the promising pre-salt area, where billions of barrels of oil are trapped beneath a layer of salt under the ocean floor. But the upcoming round is not subject to the same complex terms as Wednesday's TOR auction, making it more attractive to many.

"We expect the majors to be more aggressive in tomorrow's round," consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie told investors in a Wednesday note.

Unlike the ill-fated TOR auction, which required winners to negotiate compensation to the state-controlled firm, known formally as Petroleo Brasileiro, for previous exploration work in the area, Thursday's round will include terms in line with five successful prior auctions in the pre-salt area.

It will also offer blocks without certified reserves, giving room for interested companies to make their own estimates about the most promising areas, luring foreign firms with more potential upside.

Still, Petrobras already exercised its preferential rights in Aram, Norte de Brava and Sudoeste de Sagitario blocks.

Other oil companies do not need to partner with Petrobras on the Bumerangue and Cruzeiro do Sul oil blocks, which are also on offer in Thursday's round. (Reporting by Gram Slattery and Marianna Parraga Editing by Brad Haynes and Marguerita Choy)