OGX Petroleo e Gas Participacoes - an oil firm controlled by Eike Batista, Brazil's wealthiest man - announced Wednesday that it has been authorized as a deep-water operator.
OGX said in a statement that the ANP oil regulator assigned it the Operator A qualification it needed to operate blocks in "deep and ultra-deep waters" of the Atlantic Ocean.
The company previously held an Operator B qualification, which limited it to operating in shallow-water and onshore blocks.
More than 90 percent of Brazil's oil production is located offshore in very deep water, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in an analysis brief in February.
State-controlled Petrobras, the country's largest oil producer, has discovered ultra-deep offshore reserves in recent years that could transform Brazil into one of the world's largest crude exporters.
OGX, founded in 2007, began producing oil this year at a shallow-water block in the Campos basin.
The company has concessions for 29 exploratory blocks in Brazil, as well as four blocks in Colombia.
OGX is one of the public companies controlled by Batista-owned conglomerate Grupo EBX, along with diversified energy unit MPX, the PortX port management company, the LLX logistics unit, the MMX mining firm and shipbuilder OSX.
According to Forbes magazine, Batista is the world's seventh-wealthiest person with an estimated net worth of $30 billion. EFE