US supermajor ExxonMobil has announced a change of leadership at its Brazil operations, as the company prepares to resume exploration drilling at the South American oil and gas powerhouse after nearly a decade.

Juan Lessmann will take the helm of ExxonMobil Brazil, replacing Carla Lacerda, who is retiring after 35 years of services.

Lessmann has been working for ExxonMobil for more than 22 years and has previously served as an executive in the US.

Before being appointed to replace Lacerda, he was senior project manager for the Equinor-operated Bacalhau pre-salt field off Brazil, in which ExxonMobil holds a 40% working interest.

ExxonMobil currently has stakes in 28 offshore blocks in Brazil spread across the Campos, Santos and Sergipe-Alagoas basins, of which it operates 17.

In January, the Irving, Texas-based giant will begin a closely watched drilling programme, initially tackling two prospects — Opal and Titan — in the Brazilian pre-salt play with the Seadrill drillship West Saturn.

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It is widely expected that ExxonMobil will later take the rig north-east to spud at least one wildcat in the Sergipe-Alagoas basin.