Questions surround Brazil's big oil find
RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil's stock market regulator criticized the head of the National Petroleum Agency (ANP) for stating reserve estimates of a potentially giant oil find, and federal prosecutors said on Tuesday they may investigate.
The government's ANP has distanced itself from a statement made on Monday by its chief, Haroldo Lima, which put Carioca field reserves at 33 billion barrels of oil equivalent, citing data obtained informally from Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras.
The Rio de Janeiro federal public prosecutors' office said it would analyze media reports on Mr. Lima's statement regarding the Carioca find to decide whether to launch an inquiry.
Stock market regulator CVM said it considered the announcement "harmful" as it involved public companies and was made by a non corporate official. It said in a statement it had asked Petrobras to clarify the case and will mull unspecified other measures in the meantime.
If confirmed, the new deep-water, sub-salt field off the coast of Sao Paulo state would be the largest find in the world in the past 30 years.
The ANP said the data was in the public domain after circulating in the media since February.
Petrobras, which saw its shares soar on Monday and add another 1.5 per cent on Tuesday, has said more studies were required on the find without denying the estimate altogether.
Stocks in Petrobras' Carioca partners BG and Repsol-YPF jumped on Tuesday even after the ANP played down the announcement.
Mr. Lima denied on Tuesday that he made any announcement as the estimates were published in the World Oil industry magazine in February.
"Is it that the North American specialized public has the right to know about things happening in Brazil? Is it something that the Brazilian specialized audience cannot know? ... I made no announcement," Mr. Lima said during a hearing on an unrelated issue before the Senate's economic affairs commission.
He did not explain why he initially cited the operator of the Carioca field as the informal source of the estimate and denied any attempts to influence stock prices."There was no speculation involved," Mr. Lima said. "The idea of (influencing the) stock exchange just wasn't there