Brazil regulators will allow Petrobras to sign production-sharing agreements to produce beyond 5 billion barrels of oil in unlicenced pre-salt acreage, the state-led oil company said on Tuesday.
Brazil's National Energy Policy Council (NPRE) will directly contract with Petrobras to pump additional volumes of oil from the premier pre-salt fields of Buzios, Iara Surround, Florim and Tupi North-east, according to a statement.
Petrobras under a special agreement with the government has enjoyed rights to produce up to 5 billion barrels in the transfer of rights or Cessao Onerosa area, a move aimed at making sure Brazil's national oil company kept a strong foothold in prolific reserves.
But critics have fiercely challenged whether Petrobras can execute on its ambitious goals of developing heavy pre-salt commitments on its own, and have urged more involvement from partners.
Petrobras, however, described the "surplus" volumes as playing a role in achieving production goals and carrying out its business and management plan.
"This contracting is an opportunity for Petrobras to secure the sustainability of its production in line with the 2030 Strategic Plan ... with a focus on capital discipline, integrated portfolio management and priority for upstream projects in Brazil," Petrobras said.
The company's stock closed down more than 3% in Sao Paulo on Tuesday.
The quartet of fields is estimated by Brazil's National Petroleum Agency (ANP) to contain an additional 9.8 billion and 15.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent beyond the initial 5 billion barrel floor.
Production-sharing agreements for the areas will run for 35 years.
In regard to transfer of rights production beyond 5 billion barrels, Petrobras will pay a signature bonus of 2 billion reais ($898 million) to Brazil's federal government in 2014.
It will also make additional payments to the government in anticipation of oil profits: 2 billion reais in 2015, 3 billion reais in 2016, 4 billion reais in 2017 and 4 billion reais in 2018.
Petrobras will also give the government the following percentage of profit oil: 47.42% for the Buzios field, 48.53% for Iara Surround, 46.53% for Florim and 47,62% for Nordeste de Tupi.
"Petrobras considers that the parameters approved by the CNPE will give to this project (surplus of the transfer of rights) the same conditions of attractiveness that are expected from Libra field," the company said.