Brazil banks, funds launch rig firm Sete Brasil

Mon May 16, 2011 5:36pm EDT

* Firm to build deep-water rigs for Petrobras

* Brazil wants to build rigs locally to spur economy

RIO DE JANEIRO May 16 (Reuters) - A group of Brazilian banks and funds have created a company called Sete Brasil that will build seven deep-water rigs for state-run oil company Petrobras' offshore exploration campaign, Petrobras said on Monday.

Sete Brasil was designed to help meet Brazil's goal of building drilling rigs domestically while taking some of the financial burden of their construction off Petrobras.

Investors in the firm include banks Santander (SAN.MC), Bradesco (BBDC4.SA), BTG Pactual and Caixa Economica Federal, as well as Brazilian pension funds such as Previ, Petrobras said in a statement. Petrobras will own a stake of less than 10 percent in the operation.

The rigs are due to be in operation by 2015.

Petrobras is commissioning 28 deep-water drilling rigs to be built in Brazil as part of efforts to spur the local oil services industry and the expansion of domestic shipyards.

Acquiring those rigs is a key part of its five-year, $224 billion business plan that is focused on the deep-water offshore region known as the subsalt -- believed to hold as much as 100 billion barrels of oil buried beneath the ocean's surface.

Critics say building the rigs locally will boost Petrobras's costs and slow development of the offshore reserves. (Reporting by Brian Ellsworth and Jeb Blount. Editing by Robert MacMillan)

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