The Law no. 12,276 of June 30th, 2010, authorized the Federal Government to onerously assign to Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. - Petrobras, having the bidding process been waived, the activities of research and mining of oil, natural gas and other fluid hydrocarbons in the Pre-Salt areas that have not been granted up to a limit of 5 billion barrels equivalent of oil. In exchange of referred assignment, the law determined that the payment due by Petrobras were primarily made by means of federal public securities debt, with respective pricing at market value, which in turn were used in stocks subscriptions of Petrobras stockholders' capital.
The onerous assignment contract entered into on September 3rd, 2010 listed six definitive areas/blocks (Florim, Franco, Sul de Guará, Entorno de Iara, Sul de Tupi, and Nordeste de Tupi) and a contingent area/block (Peroba).
On the occasion of its 28th Meeting, on 24/06/2014, the Brazilian National Council of Energy Policy (CNPE) approved the Petrobras' direct contract for the production of the volume exceeding the 5 billion barrels by means of a contract entered into under the onerous assignment regime in four areas of the pre-salt Búzios (formerly designated Franco), Entorno de Iara, Florim, and Nordeste de Tupi (Resolution Nº1 of 2014).
The CNPE 's decision was based on studies indicating that in the areas under a contract of onerous assignment regime, the existing volumes in these areas exceed the limits of 5 billion barrels of oil equivalent and that the projects for the development of each one these areas may be accelerated and cost less if Petrobras develops a joint work in the areas involved in the onerous assignment and production sharing regime. In the four areas where a contract was directly entered into with Petrobras under the production sharing regime, potential reserves of 9,8 billion to 15,2 billion barrels of oil equivalent are estimated.
However, the TCU upon analyzing the procedure of referred contract, identified in the information received by the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) and by the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP), the lack of technical details and absence of actual parameters resulting from the exploration of the onerous assignment areas, given that hypothetical data and theoretical premises were prioritized .
According to the TCU, such situation may affect the Federal Government's profitability in the contract.
As a result, the TCU determined the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) to only proceed with Petrobras direct contract after improvements are made on the technical studies that subsidize the referred project, including as of the final parameters of the onerous assignment contract, which will be established with the conclusion of its review. The studies must be submitted for the TCU ´s appreciation with at least thirty days advance notice of the execution of the contract to be entered into with Petrobras.
In view of this decision, the MME filed an appeal in court against this decision. requesting that this matter were revised and the determination suspended while the case were reviewed by the authority, given that as soon as the contract is executed, the Federal Government will receive two billion reais by way of signature bonus.
The reporting judge of the case did not overrule the decision previously taken but accepted to reexamine the request, having informed his decision to the en banc court on 21/01/2015.
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