NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I was talking today to Stephanie Link, co-portolio manager of Action Alerts PLUS, about the recent auction of the Libra field in Brazil, an off-shore asset that potentially holds up to 12 billion barrels of oil.

Such an amazing discovery with such development potential was thought to attract many dozens of oil companies to bid on the lease for that asset, but instead brought only one bid from a consortium of Petrobras ( PBR), Royal Dutch Shell ( RDS.A), Total ( TOT) and two Chinese oil companies.

It is a fascinating story of how governments can remove the incentive for oil companies to invest in new finds if they are hell-bent on extorting from those companies deep incentives, regulations and taxes.

In this one lease alone, the Brazilian government required that Petrobras, which is largely state-influenced, be a 40% stake holder. It also procured a $7 billion signing fee from the other participants and will ask for $185 billion in incentives from the consortium over the 35-year lifespan of the lease agreement.

This is in contrast to U.S. offshore assets, which have experienced high auction participation and prices even with the added regulation that has been brought on in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

That keeps me away from buying Petrobras, despite its run this year and keeps me focused on U.S. Gulf of Mexico deepwater opportunities including Chevron ( CVX), Anadarko Petroleum ( APB) and BP ( BP).

I talk more about this with Stephanie in the video above.

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Action Alerts PLUS has a position in APC and NOV.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Dan Dicker has been a floor trader at the New York Mercantile Exchange with more than 25 years of oil trading experience. He is a licensed commodities trade adviser.

 

Dan is currently President of MercBloc LLC, a wealth management firm and is the author of "Oil's Endless Bid," published in March of 2011 by John Wiley and Sons.

 

Dan Dicker has appeared as an energy analyst since 2002 with all the major financial news networks. He has lent his expertise in hundreds of live radio and television broadcasts on CNBC, Bloomberg US and UK and CNNfn.

 

Dan obtained a bachelor of arts degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1982.

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