Exclusive: Golar Power offers top bid for Petrobras's LNG terminal - sources

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past the headquarters of Brazilian oil company Petrobras in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, September 10, 2020. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes/File Photo

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Golar Power Ltd has submitted the top bid for a highly-sought-after liquefied natural gas import terminal being leased by Brazil’s state-run energy firm Petrobras, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said, though the firm’s bid may be thrown out on compliance-related grounds.

In a securities filing on Thursday night, Petrobras confirmed that it had received an offer from Golar. However, it said Golar had been given a “high integrity risk grade, implying its disqualification” from the bidding.

Petrobras said the process would now enter a phase in which interested parties could lodge appeals.

The terminal and regasification facility was offered under a wider government effort to end the state oil company’s monopoly in natural gas imports and processing. The Bahia state terminal can process 20 million cubic meters per day of LNG and includes a 45 kilometer pipeline.

A bid by Golar Power, a joint venture between Golar LNG GLNG.O and U.S. private-equity firm Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners, was the top offer received, the people said. Twelve companies applied to submit offers, including local subsidiaries of BP PLC BP.L, Total SA TOTF.PA and Repsol SA REP.MC.

Golar, Petrobras, BP, Total and Repsol did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The chief executive of another Golar LNG-Stonepeak venture, Hygo Energy Transition Ltd, stepped down this week after being cited in a bribery investigation. The former executive, Eduardo Antonello, has not been charged.

The new operator will be able to start importing fuel at the terminal early next year, Petrobras has previously said.

Golar Power is investing in a number of projects in Brazil betting on an increase in LNG usage, now mostly used for power generation. The fuel eventually could be a substitute for diesel, Golar has said.

Reporting by Sabrina Valle and Gram Slattery; editing by Grant McCool