* Strike has had limited impact on output so far
* Union says contingency teams suffered two "small" spills
* Gov't to deploy troops to ensure security at auction
By Jeb Blount
RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct 18 Brazilian oil workers
said on Friday they managed to reduce oil and fuels output from
state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA for a
second day after launching a strike for higher pay and against a
planned auction of the country's largest-ever oil discovery.
Platforms in the Campos Basin run by Petrobras, as the
company is known, have been below full capacity for 36 hours,
said Marcos Brida, the press spokesman for Sindepetro
Norte-Fluminense, the union responsible for Petrobras offshore
production platform and land-terminal workers in the Campos
Basin, home to about 80 percent of Brazil's oil production.
Brida also said contingency teams for Petrobras suffered two
"small" oil spills at the PCE-1 and P-15 oil platforms in the
Campos Basin. The union also announced the spills in a note.
Petrobras officials were not immediately available for comment.
Sindepetro Norte-Fluminese is part of a national strike by
Brazil's National Oilworkers' Federation (FUP) that began at
midnight (0300 GMT) on Thursday. It has seen workers walk off
the job at most of Petrobras' 12 refineries, some of its oil
terminals and pipelines plus scores of oil production sites.
Natural gas and oil pumping operations and fuel production
at refineries were also reduced, said Alessandra Muteira, press
official for FUP in Rio de Janeiro.
Neither Brida nor Muteira were able to quantify the
reductions. Petrobras was not immediately able to comment on the
strike. Petrobras has said it has contingency plans to ensure
that energy and fuel supplies are maintained during strikes and
that the safety of its facilities is not compromised.
Strikes have rarely had any significant impact on output or
supplies in Brazil. Top Petrobras officials have told Reuters in
the past that the company can face strikes of about two weeks
without any major impact.
To prevent the strike from interfering with the auction of
the massive offshore Libra field on Monday, the government will
provide police and army units to ensure the smooth operation of
the sale. On Thursday, oil workers briefly occupied Brazil's
mines and energy ministry in Brasilia in protest.
Libra holds an estimated 8 billion to 12 billion barrels of
recoverable oil, according to both Brazil's oil regulator and
Dallas-based oil-reserve certification company Degolyer &
If the projection holds up, Libra could nearly double
Brazil's oil reserves or have enough oil to supply the world's
crude demand for as much as 19 weeks.
Libra, billed by the government as the largest offshore oil
are ever sold, is the latest in a series of "subsalt" finds
beginning in 2007 that struck oil southeast of Rio de Janeiro,
trapped deep below the seabed by a layer of salt.
Brazil is expected to get at least $7 billion in up-front
fees from the winning company or group. Petrobras by law will
have to take a minimum 30 percent stake in any winning group and
run the project as operator.
Opposition to the sale of Libra is strong among Petrobras
unions. The unions still protest the 1997 end of Petrobras'
monopoly over exploration, production and refining and regularly
attack any non-Petrobras involvement in oil production, whether
the involvement is domestic or foreign.
The union's nationalist sentiment is shared by many in
Brazil. The creation of Petrobras 60 years ago this month is
still considered by many, especially older Brazilians, as an act
of national liberation.
Ildo Sauer, a former Petrobras gas and energy chief, has
filed a lawsuit seeking to block the Libra sale. To date, oil
regulator ANP has managed to get all suits seeking injunctions
against the sale quashed.