The end of Petrobras's monopoly in the pre-salt exploration may become a reality in the near future. Bill 4567/2016, which was recently approved by the Senate and remitted to analysis and approval by the Chamber of Deputies, aims to amend Law 12.351/2010, which regulates the exploration and production regime in the pre-salt area.

The existing regime provides for a production sharing scheme in consortiums, in which Petrobras is mandatorily the sole operator and is responsible for conducting and implementing exploration activities in the pre-salt area. Petrobras is also required by law to maintain a minimum participation interest of 30% in every consortium.

The bill's original draft proposed to end Petrobras's sole operatorship in the pre-salt exploration entirely. However, the Senate amended its wording before approval.

The text now under consideration by the Chamber of Deputies proposes, in brief, to end Petrobras's mandatory sole operatorship in the pre-salt area. However, Petrobras would have a right of first refusal to act as operator, according to its interests. This refusal right would have to be exercised within a 30-day period. In addition, the bill proposes the end of Petrobras's mandatory minimum participation of 30% in all consortiums.

In other words, Petrobras would no longer have the exclusive right to act as the pre-salt operator, which will help to attract new investors and allow other companies to be in charge for the exploration.

The bill will be voted on by the Chamber of Deputies and, if any amendments are made, will be returned to the Senate for a new round. If it passes without amendment, the bill will be forwarded to President Dilma Rousseff, who will have the final word regarding its approval.

For further information on this topic please contact Godofredo Mendes Vianna or Renata Labruna Labronici at Kincaid | Mendes Vianna Advogados by telephone (+55 21 2276 6200) or email (godofredo@kincaid.com.br or renata.labruna@kincaid.com.br). The Kincaid | Mendes Vianna Advogados website can be accessed at www.kincaid.com.br.

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