The Brazilian Senate approved, on 24/02/2016, the substitute Draft Bill (PLS) no. 131, of 2015, which alters the Law no. 12,351 of December 22, 2010, which wards off the mandatory participation of Petrobras as operator in the pre-salt and hold a minimum stake of 30% (thirty per cent) in consortiums formed for exploration of blocks that have been put up for bidding in the production- sharing regime.

The Law no. 12,351/2010, which sets forth provisions on exploration and production of oil, natural gas, and other fluid hydrocarbons, under the production-sharing regime, in the pre-salt and strategic areas, lays down that Petrobras will be operator of all blocks under contract under the production-sharing regime, being ensured to Petrobras a minimum stake of 30% in the entrepreneur consortium.

The proposal approved by the Senate lays down that Petrobras may have preference to act as operator, and should Petrobras exercises such preference Petrobras will have a minimum stake of 30% in the pre-salt auctions. The proposal also defines that even if Petrobras does not exercise such option for being the exclusive operator, Petrobras may still take part in the bidding process on an equal footing with the other competitor companies.

The exercise of the right of preference shall be governed by the National Council for Energy Policy (CNPE), which, considering the domestic interest, will offer Petrobras the preference to be the operator of the blocks to be contracted under the production-sharing regime. Petrobras, in their turn, shall make a justified statement on their option for the preference. After Petrobras makes their statement, the CNPE will propose to the Brazilian President the blocks that must be operated by the company, indicating its minimum stake, which cannot be less than 30%.

After having been received at the Chamber of Deputies, the bill was renumbered as Bill 4567/2016, which is currently being analyzed by a Special Committee whose bill will receive priority treatment.

The work of the Committee started last March. Since then, the Committee has been holding several public hearings to listen to the concerns and opinions of governmental officials, representatives of the industry, and industry experts about the proposal.

The Federal Government expressed their interest for the proposal to be approved as quickly as possible.

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