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EXCLUSIVE-Talos, Enauta consortium places bid for Petrobras Albacora fields, sources say

(Adds information 3R comment, information on Talos strategy, updates share price)

RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb 10 (Reuters) - A consortium of Talos Energy Inc, private equity firm EIG Global Energy Partners, Enauta Participacoes SA and 3R Petroleum Oleo e Gas SA has submitted a non-binding offer for Brazilian oilfields Albacora and Albacora Leste, five sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The exact value of the bid submitted to Brazil’s state-led oil company Petrobras was unclear, though the asset is likely to fetch in the billions of dollars, said two of the sources, who requested anonymity to discuss confidential talks. The bid was officially submitted on Monday, one source said.

The two fields produce 77,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day according to tender documents released by Petrobras. The state-run oil firm is seeking to rapidly de-leverage by selling non-core assets.

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the producer is formally known, has sold dozens of small and medium-sized fields over the last two years. The Albacora divestment would be the largest since 2017, when the company agreed to sell a stake in its Roncador field to Norway’s Equinor ASA for $2.9 billion.

If the bid is successful, it would mark a significant geographic shift for Talos, which is active only in the Gulf of Mexico.

In recent years, Talos has attempted to negotiate a so-called unitization agreement with Mexican national oil company Pemex over the offshore Zama discovery, which the Houston-based company announced in 2017. Pemex claims most of the nearly 700-million-barrel find is in its adjacent field, and talks have been an enduring headache for Talos.

A source familiar with the firm’s strategy described the Albacora offer as consistent with Talos’ push for adding offshore scale and diversity to its portfolio.

Both Washington-based EIG and Brazil’s Enauta have previously said they were looking to use cash firepower from recent divestments to make acquisitions in Brazil, including production assets.

Petrobras, EIG, Enauta and 3R declined to comment. Talos did not respond to requests for comment.

There are likely other bidders for the oilfields, two of the sources said.

Among the companies that have publicly expressed interest in Albacora and Albacora Leste is Rio de Janeiro-based independent Petro Rio SA, which did not respond to a request for comment.

Aker BP ASA, which is currently active only in Norway, had examined the asset, but ultimately decided against bidding, the company’s chief executive told Reuters last week.

New York-listed shares in Talos and Sao Paulo-listed shares in 3R both rose 3% at opening on Wednesday before paring most gains. Enauta shares were up 0.56% in mid-day trade, and Petrobras shares were roughly flat.

Brazil’s benchmark Bovespa equities index was down 1%.

During the next step of the sale process, likely several weeks away, interested parties will submit binding offers. (Reporting by Gram Slattery and Marta Nogueira Additional reporting by David Alire Garcia in Mexico City Editing by Brad Haynes and David Gregorio)

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