Brazil sets up controls over offshore oil drilling

Brazilian lawmakers have approved legislation that will give the government more control over developing offshore oil fields.

The lower house of the Brazilian congress passed the bill Wednesday, sending it to outgoing President Luiz Inacio da Silva for his signature.

The measure allows the state-owned oil company, known as Petrobras, to be the sole operator of unexplored offshore oil fields, as well as a 30 percent stake in any joint ventures.

Brazil has discovered potentially large oil reserves off the country’s southeastern coast, some of them thousands of meters below the sea floor. Some estimates say the fields may contain more than 50 billion barrels of oil.

Brazilian lawmakers also approved a provision that will allow non-oil producing states to receive more oil revenues.

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