Sao Paulo - A $7 billion [15 billion real] upfront 'signature bonus' demanded by Sao Paulo auctioneers has been slammed by US energy companies as a crude scam amid rumors of a Hugo Chavez-style nationalization of Brazilian oil and gas next year.
Bidders in the astrologically-aligned Libra Field sale on Monday are being warned the cash-strapped country is desperate for a heap of quick, cheap cash to bankroll its ailing Rio 2016 Olympic Games project, currently six months and $$$ billions behind schedule.
That's enough for US super majors Exxon Mobil and Chevron to turn down a bidding invitation along with other global players such as BP plc and the BG Group.
"Several global corporations got stung in the Venezuela debacle," a top Big Oil investor commented in a reference to Hugo Chavez's kleptocratic seizure of Venezuelan energy reserves, "and the smell out of Sao Paulo's no different to what came out of Caracas."
Current Libra wannabes include China's Cnooc Ltd, China National Petroleum Corp and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp [aka Sinopec], bidding via its Spanish joint venture Repsol SA.
Asian interests include Malaysia's Petronas, India's ONGC Videsh and the Japanese trading house Mitsui & Company.
Successful bidders will have to kow-tow to Brazil's state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA which automatically becomes a partner with the foreign winning team[s].
The arrangement has branded by US Big Oil as a Stalinist ploy that guarantees Brazil will keep a minimum 30% financial stake in the field and status as operator - without the burden of any upfront cash layouts.
The Sun moves out of Libra and into Scorpio early on Wednesday 23 October.