Brazil studying market appetite for new oil/gas block auction
By Marta Nogueira
RIO DE JANEIRO Feb 20 (Reuters) - Brazil is gauging market interest in exploring for oil and gas in the country before deciding whether to go ahead with a new auction of blocks in the first half of this year, the Energy Ministry said on Friday.
The 13th oil rights auction, Brazil's first sale of oil and gas concession rights since 2013, is currently scheduled for between late April and mid-May, according to oil regulator ANP.
But a corruption scandal engulfing state-run oil giant Petroleo Brasileiro SA and the recent plunge in oil prices have raised the possibility that the auction will have to be put off until the second half of 2015.
The widening corruption investigation has deepened Petrobras' financial woes and struck some of its main suppliers.
The Energy Ministry said a decision is still in the works, though time is running out.
"For the moment, we are studying market conditions and the situation of the companies that supply goods and services in the country," the ministry said in a statement emailed to Reuters.
It said a decision on which blocks will be auctioned must be made before the end of February if the auction is to happen by June.
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