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Front runner closes in on Bauna asset victory

One player expected to acquire Petrobras-owned acreage after out-bidding PetroRio

One company looks set to come out on top in a battle for the acquisition of the Petrobras-owned Bauna asset, located in Brazil’s Santos basin.

Australian player Karoon Gas bid aggressively in the latest re-bid, to edge out Brazilian rival PetroRio, Upstream understands.

Petrobras is a long way from confirming the outcome, but industry sources suggested Karoon’s offer was higher than $750 million, while PetroRio’s final offer was closer to the $600 million mark.

Karoon already holds assets close to Bauna and is keen to build up more materiality to underpin its farm-out and development plans for the Neon and Goia area, formerly known as Echidna and Kangaroo.

Closure of the Bauna deal would also serve to close the lid on any remaining speculation about Karoon’s chances of buying Sinochem’s 40% working interest in the Equinor-operated Peregrino heavy oil development, also off Brazil.

"Karoon still has to show that it can put the financing arrangements in place, but this looks like a flyer,” said one well-placed source.

Karoon has already made a compulsory down-payment worth 7.5% of the proposed purchase price, Upstream understands.

Bauna produces through the Cidade de Itajai floating production, storage and offloading unit.

Oil production averaged 20,000 barrels per day through the first four months of 2019, after peaking at 69,000 bpd in 2014, but buyers see upside.

In a busy week for Petrobras portfolio managers, the company also received new bids from Trident Energy — a UK-based oil and gas company backed by private equity giant Warburg Pincus—and Brazilian firm Ouro Preto for two clusters of shallow-water fields in the Campos basin, priced at a reported $1 billion, or more.

A re-bid was called after Trident challenged the fact that Perenco, a potential operator, replaced EIG Global Energy Partners as Ouro Preto’s backers, setting off red-flags in a sale procedure packed with compliance hoops and obstacles.

Sources in the Ouro Preto consortium said the bid was fully compliant with bidding rules published by Petrobras, but it was not immediately clear whether Perenco remained in the picture. Ouro Preto is also partnered by Seacrest Capital.

The 10 fields in the Pampo-Enchova package are producing more than 30,000 barrels per day of oil from seven fixed platforms, but buyers again see considerable upside.

Petrobras issued two new market teasers last week, offering to sell interests in the Peroa and Cangoa shallow-water gas fields, in the Espirito Santo basin, packaged together with its stake in the Malombe discovery, located in Block BM-ES-21.

The offer includes pipeline and platform infrastructure and access to the Cacimbas natural gas processing facility.

The Peroa-Cangoa complex was recently producing close to 900,000 cubic metres per day of natural gas, but forms part of a system with capacity for up to 8 MMcmd.

Also up for sale is Petrobras’ 100% stake in the Tucano Sul cluster of four onshore gas fields in the state of Bahia, together with transport and processing installations.

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