Brazil approves 64 companies for oil auction

Rio de Janeiro, Apr 16 (EFE).- Sixty-four companies have received authorization to participate in the bidding for new oil exploration blocks in Brazil next month, the National Petroleum Agency, or ANP, said.

Spain's Repsol and Cepsa, and Colombia's Ecopetrol are among the companies that qualified to bid out of the 71 that filed requests, the ANP said.

The May 14-15 auction will offer 289 exploration blocks in 11 sedimentary basins covering 155,800 sq. kilometers (59,846 sq. miles).

Spain's Repsol, which is participating with partner Sinopec of China, and other large oil companies, such as Anglo-Dutch supermajor Shell, Brazil's Petrobras and U.S.-based supermajors Chevron and ExxonMobil, are bidding for deepwater blocks.

The government did not include any fields in the oil-rich pre-salt layer in the auction.

The pre-salt reserves, which are off southeastern Brazil, are considered one of the largest oil finds in recent decades.

The pre-salt layer is found beneath the sea bottom and contains a gel-like deposit of salt that could be up to two kilometers (1.24 miles) deep.

Brazil will hold its first auction of pre-salt reserves in November, with the winning bidders required by a new law to share profits from the fields with the government.