The Brazilian army will help beef up security of Monday's planned auction of exploration rights to the Libra offshore oil area, the country's defense ministry said on Thursday. More than 1,100 men, including police officers, firemen and army staff, will cordon off the hotel compound in which the auction will take place, in the Rio de Janeiro district of Barra da Tijuca, the statement said. Security is a crucial issue for the auction, which has lured strong opposition from oil workers and other groups that are against the sale of exploration rights to foreign companies. Rio has been the center of a wave of protests in recent days in which police and demonstrators have clashed.
Earlier this week, Brazil's oil industry watchdog ANP said only 11 companies had agreed to pay the 2.05 million real ($927,601) registration fee. The government had expected more than forty companies to take part in the auction of Libra.
According to ANP estimates, Libra holds 8 billion to 12 billion barrels of recoverable oil, enough to supply all current world oil needs for three to five months.