April 4, 2019 / 1:58 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Brazil eyes deal on 'transfer of rights' oil area by next week -minister

(Adds additional minister comments, context)

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 4 (Reuters) - Brazil Mines and Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque said on Thursday that he is optimistic that there will be a deal by next week resolving the government’s dispute with Petroleo Brasileiro SA over the offshore oil-producing zone known as the transfer of rights area.

Albuquerque said he hoped for a deal in time for the National Energy Policy Council’s (CNPE) meeting set for next week. The CNPE website does not list a date for the meeting.

The government is expected to make a multibillion-dollar payment to Petrobras, as the company is known, to resolve a dispute over a 2010 deal that granted the state-controlled firm the rights to extract 5 billion barrels of oil in the area. The amount of oil in the area was later discovered to be much larger.

Albuquerque also told reporters that U.S. company Westinghouse had expressed interest in participating in the construction of the Angra 3 nuclear power plant, with the government seeking to open some parts of the project to foreign investors and aiming to restart work on it next year.

Work on Angra 3 was halted in 2015, amid allegations of corruption in the contract bidding process. Former Brazilian President Michel Temer was indicted this week on charges that he took part in a bribery scheme related to the nuclear power plant complex. (Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier Writing by Jake Spring Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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