China's CNOOC may bid on more Brazil oil blocs

RIO DE JANEIRO, May 7 (Reuters) - Chinese oil company CNOOC Ltd wants to expand in Brazil and is considering bidding in an auction of offshore exploration blocs in the pre-salt area set for later this year, the head of the firm’s Brazilian unit said on Tuesday.

CNOOC, owned by Chinese state-owned firm China National Offshore Oil Corp, is also looking for a partner in Bloc 592 in the Espirito Santo basin which it was awarded in a previous auction, country head Sheng Jianbo said at an event in Rio de Janeiro. The company additionally owns a stake in the Libra field in the Santos basin.

Brazil is set to hold a round of pre-salt auctions on Nov. 7. It will also auction off rights to excess oil in the so-called transfer-of-rights area on Oct. 28 following the settlement of a long-running dispute with state-controlled firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA, known as Petrobras.

“We are looking at (pre-salt auctions) and it seems like a good opportunity,” Sheng said. “We want to expand production in Brazil...this will depend on the size of the discoveries.”

It was not clear whether Sheng was referring to the Nov. 7 or Oct. 28 auctions, or both.

CNOOC already owns a 10 percent stake in the Brazil’s Libra field in the Santos basin, jointly invested with Petrobras, Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell Plc and France’s Total SA .

Sheng said production in the Libra field’s long-term test is 58,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier Editing by Marguerita Choy