UPDATE 1-Brazil's tarnished oil industry polishes image with rights sale

Wed May 15, 2013 2:03pm EDT
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* BG Group, OGX, Total, BP among winners at Brazil auction

* Sale comes after years of sluggish oil growth, rising debt

* Last auction held in 2008 after which oil interest waned

* U.S., European companies rush in, but Asians wary

By Jeb Blount

RIO DE JANEIRO, May 15 (Reuters) - For the first time in nearly five years, Brazil's flagging oil industry has received serious interest from private investors.

Brazil's oil agency, the ANP, sold 142 exploration areas to 39 companies from 12 countries on Tuesday, wrapping up the scheduled two-day auction in just one day. It was the first auction since a decade of annual sales ended in 2008.

Companies such as Britain's BG Group Plc and BP Plc , France's Total SA, U.S.-based Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp, and Brazil's OGX Petroleo e Gas SA helped boost auction returns to a record 2.82 billion reais ($1.4 billion) in cash.

The ANP expects the winners to invest about 7 billion reais in exploration over about five years. Most of the areas are in high-risk frontier regions with little or no oil output.   Continued...