LISBON, Oct 24 (Reuters) - The opening of new oil and gas projects in the subsalt areas off Brazil's coast to operators other than the financially strained, state-owned Petrobras is positive and should speed up development, the CEO of Portugal's Galp Energia said on Monday.
Still, Carlos Gomes da Silva told reporters that Galp, which is Petrobras' minority partner in some of the biggest subsalt oilfields in Brazil, continues to see strong benefits in working with the Brazilian giant and the two will expand their cooperation under a recently signed accord.
"Certainly, when we believe in a project as has always been the case in Brazil, there is not one that we've invested in without Petrobras being involved, which means a lot of joint work and affinity for the evaluation of potential reserves."
The Brazilian Congress earlier this month approved the main text of a bill aimed at boosting private investment in the country's energy industry by allowing companies other than Petrobras to run new oil and gas projects in the subsalt region.
"It's positive because if the development was anchored to just one operator ... and Petrobras today has important financial constraints, that would make the development pace of all of Brazil's oil sector a lot slower," Gomes da Silva said.
Petrobras has been trying to regain investor confidence in the wake of a giant corruption scandal, which added to its financial woes and inflated a debt load which at nearly $125 billion is the largest in the global oil industry.
"With this opening, Petrobras can opt whether it has to be in the project," Gomes da Silva said.
He added that Brazil presents various opportunities, with Petrobras' planned pullout from some assets and new licensing, and "remains one of the world's most extraordinary places in terms of the quality of assets and business context."
(Reporting by Shrikesh Laxmidas; Writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Dale Hudson)
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