Brazil welcomes Chinese investment in oil and gas exploration, which offers gainful business opportunities and a favorable regulatory environment, a senior Brazilian energy official said. "All companies interested in investing in Brazil are welcome and important for the country's development. There are currently 39 local and 38 foreign companies operating in Brazil's oil and gas market," said Magda Chambriard, director-general of Brazil's National Petroleum Agency (ANP). "That shows how dynamic the Brazilian market is, as it offers a trustworthy regulatory environment and good business opportunities for both Brazilian and foreign companies," she told Xinhua in an interview. Chambriard highlighted October's bidding on the Libra oilfield, in which Brazil for the first time auctioned exploration rights to an offshore pre-salt reserve. The multinational five-firm consortium that won the right to explore the Libra field includes Chinese companies CNOOC and CNPC, as well as Brazil's own state oil giant Petrobras, France's Total and Anglo-Dutch Shell. Petrobras is the operator of the business, as required by law in Brazilian pre-salt exploration. The ANP faced criticism at the time for labeling the auction as a success, despite the fact that only one consortium submit a bid and many major oil firms, such as BP and Exxon Mobil, did not participate. "The consortium that won the Libra auction is formed by five of the world's top 10 energy companies in market value, which have the three key elements for a successful venture: high technology, long-term vision and financial capacity," Chambriard said. Libra, Brazil's largest oilfield to date, has an estimated reserve of 8to 12 billion barrels of recoverable oil, and its production may reach a million barrels of oil per day. According to Chambriard, Libra is such a large field that its exploration became "a structuring project" for the country, with the potential to generate substantial revenue and numerous jobs. Chambriard also touched on the outlook for shale gas exploration in Brazil, saying studies in the field are still in the preliminary stage, but the future potential could be enormous. "The possibility of exploring for natural gas in Brazil's extensive areas of sedimentary rocks is a huge opportunity for the development of those regions, which is why the ANP considers it a structuring project for the country," she said. Asked whether Brazil is concerned about shale gas exploration in the United States, which could make the country self-sufficient in energy and no longer need to buy oil from Brazil, Chambriard indicated it was not an issue. Brazil's position in the global oil and gas market is already consolidated, representing enormous opportunities and potential for business, she said.