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Oil report

Minister gave privileged info on Petrobras-report

SAO PAULO, June 13 (Reuters) - Brazil’s Labor Minister Carlos Lupi appears to have revealed privileged information on oil discoveries by state-run oil company Petrobras, which is publicly traded, a newspaper said on Friday.

Lupi told journalists while in Geneva on Thursday that Petrobras had made another large oil find in the subsalt layer off Brazil’s coast, the O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper said.

Later on Thursday, Petrobras PETR4.SAPBR.N announced it struck light oil in an ultra-deep field in the BM-S-9 block under the subsalt layer in the Santos Basin but gave no potential reserve data on the find. It is still drilling at the well to test the field's reserve potential.

The find, the latest in a slew of deep-water light-oil discoveries over the past year that have helped more than double the price of Petrobras shares, was formally registered with the National Petroleum Agency early on Friday.

Not only did Lupi let the cat out of the bag about Petrobras’s most recent find but he seemed to have broader knowledge about the company’s reserves that have not yet been announced to investors, the report said.

“According to the minister, the oil reserves in Brazil are greater than Petrobras and the government has revealed until now,” the newspaper reported.

Lupi was quoted while at the United Nations event in Geneva as saying: “Everyone is going to be surprised. You (journalists) will know more in the coming weeks, but this is a topic for the energy minister. I can say no more.”

It is not the first time a government official has stirred up confusion about the size of Petrobras’s subsalt discoveries. In April, the head of the National Petroleum Agency Haroldo Lima said Petrobras’s Carioca subsalt field had recoverable reserves of 33 billion barrels.

Petrobras said it does not have reserve estimates for any of the subsalt fields it has discovered in this region, apart from Tupi, which it said in December had recoverable reserves of 5 billion to 8 billion barrels.

Petrobras’s latest discovery in the Guara field lies in the same BM-S-9 block that holds the Carioca field.

A Petrobras spokesman said Lupi is not a government representative on Petrobras’s board and said that he was not aware how Lupi could know information about the company’s oil discoveries that was not made public to investors.

The labor ministry has not responded to requests to clarify Lupi’s statements and Brazil’s market regulator, the CVM, did not return calls from Reuters about Lupi’s comments. (Reporting by Reese Ewing; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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