Brazil's Petrobras to take part in Israeli gas tender: Israeli minister

FILE PHOTO: A logo of the Brazil's state-run Petrobras oil company is seen in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Brazilian state-run oil firm Petrobras will take part in Israel’s latest tender for offshore oil and gas exploration, Israel’s energy minister said on Sunday.

Yuval Steinitz announced the agreement as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro began a four-day visit to Israel.

Bolsonaro was joined in Israel by his Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque, with whom Steinitz said he had met three weeks ago.

“It was agreed that Petrobras, which is among the biggest energy companies in the world ... will take part in the process of oil and gas exploration in Israel,” Steinitz told Army Radio.

Israeli news website Calcalist had reported that an official announcement could be made during Bolsonaro’s visit.

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the company is formally known, was not reachable for immediate comment.

A number of large gas discoveries offshore Israel and in nearby eastern Mediterranean waters in the last decade have made Israel a potentially lucrative prospect for big energy firms.

Israel is tendering 19 new offshore blocks to oil and gas companies. A previous auction elicited bids from only two groups of companies, and the Energy Ministry said it expected more to compete this time as conditions have improved. [L8N1XF0BY]

Exxon Mobil Corp, in a major policy shift, is also considering bidding in the auction.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise