RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazil has rejected an informal effort by Saudi Arabia to coax Latin America's top oil producer into joining OPEC-led production cuts aimed at boosting prices that have been hit by oversupply, a Brazilian official said on Tuesday.
Marcio Felix, Brazil's oil and gas secretary, told Reuters he received a call last week from an adviser to Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih "sounding him out" about potential production cuts.
"They are worried about the growth of production in Brazil," Felix said in a phone interview, explaining Saudi interest in Brazilian cuts. "We have explained already that Brazil cannot do this," he said.
The call occurred days after oil majors like Royal Dutch Shell snapped up blocks in a historic opening of Brazil's coveted offshore pre-salt oil play to foreign operators, part of its bid to aggressively boost output in the coming years.
Brazil, which produces 2.65 million barrels of crude per day (bpd), by law cannot control output. The South American country could double its oil production to more than 5 million barrels a day (bpd) by 2027, regulator ANP has said.
Felix, who attended an OPEC meeting last year, said Brazil has been approached by the world's largest oil exporter on previous occasions to discuss the issue.
They "don't give up easily," he said.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, led by Saudi Arabia, has agreed to restrain crude output by 1.8 bpd together with 10 other nations including Russia until March 2018.
OPEC meets at the end of this month and has been widely expected to extend the deal.
Oil prices surged to their highest since July 2015 on Monday as Saudi Arabia's crown prince cemented his power with a crackdown on corruption and tensions ratcheted up between the country and rival OPEC member Iran.
(Reporting Marta Nogueira, Additional Reporting by Jake Spring in Brasilia and Rania El Gamal in Dubai; Writing by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Tom Brown) ((Alexandra.Alper@thomsonreuters.com; 021-98186-5429; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org))