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By Rodrigo Viga Gaier
RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Brazil may let state-led oil company Petrobras sell stakes in offshore oil blocks, known as transfer of rights areas, to help finance their development, a move that will require a change in the law, an energy ministry official said on Friday.
Developing the 5 billion barrels of oil and equivalent gas rights that Petrobras purchased in 2010 in the areas, also known as the Cessao Onerosa, would be far easier and put less strain on Petrobras if it was done with partners, Oil and Gas Secretary Marcio Felix told reporters in Rio de Janeiro.
Partners make more sense if Petrobras receives additional oil from the government in compensation for the decline in the value of the oil rights since it bought them in 2010. The government and Petrobras are renegotiating that price in talks Felix expects to e complete in December, Felix added.
"The entry of a partner is a natural inference, not only for the 5 billion but for the 5 billion barrels plus something extra Petrobras will receive," he said. "This volume is so big that it will require a high level of investment to monetize."
The partner could be either another oil company or a financial investor, he added.
After the secretary's comments, Petrobras preferred shares, the company's most-traded class of stock reversed early losses to rise 2.1 percent in afternoon trading in Sao Paulo.
The transfer of rights areas, known by that name because they were sold to Petrobras without an auction, are located in the Santos Offshore basin about 175 kilometers (109 miles) south of Rio de Janeiro.
While Petrobras bought rights to 5 billion barrels in the areas, exploration since the purchase show that there are another 6 billion or 7 billion barrels in the region.
Before Petrobras ran into financial and corruption difficulties, it was assumed that it would buy the extra oil itself.
With Petrobras working to cut spending and its nearly $125 billion of debt, the largest in the world oil industry, the government is studying how it might be able to sell those rights. Previously, Felix has said Brazil may sell the oil to other companies. (Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier, writing by Jeb Blount; Editing by Daniel Flynn and David Gregorio)