Protesters and police clashed in downtown Rio de Janeiro during a demonstration against the government’s decision to auction off oil exploration rights.
Several hundred protesters converged near a Rio hotel where a consortium that includes Brazil's state-run petroleum company Petrobras won the right to develop a large offshore oil field, al-Jazeera reported Tuesday
The auction drew fire from Brazilian union activists opposed to any sale of Brazilian assets to foreign companies.
The approximately 200 demonstrators who massed near the hotel were met by a force of more than 1,000 police who used rubber-coated bullets and tear gas in an effort to disperse the crowd, according to al-Jazeera.
Petrobras, received a 40 percent stake in the project, with Shell and Total getting 20 percent each and two Chinese firms successfully each winning 10 percent stakes.
The Libra oil field contains an estimated eight to 12 billion barrels of oil. Brazil today has an estimated 15.3 billion barrels of proven oil reserves — larger than all South American nations aside from Venezuela.
The head of the Brazilian government’s National Petroleum Agency hailed the outcome as an “absolute success,” saying the five bidders are “among the world’s 10 most valuable in the energy branch,” the BBC reported
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