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Deep beneath the waters of the Atlantic off Brazil's most northern coast, French major Total SA is hunting for what it hopes will be Latin America's next big oil discovery.Another underwater discovery threatens to derail Total's plans: a massive system of coral reefs just 28 kilometers from where the French firm and its partners, Britain's BP PLC and Brazilian state oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, plan to drill.Four years after Total and its partners paid 622 million reais ($196 million) for five exploration blocks, they are still waiting for the go-ahead from Brazil's environmental regulator, Ibama.The delay has Total's Chief Executive in Brazil, Maxime Rabilloud, suggesting the company might sit out three offshore oil license rounds that Brazil has scheduled for this year.He said Total had already invested some 200 million reais ($64 million) in developing its fields in Foz do Amazonas, with no guarantee yet that it will be able to proceed.In addition to Total and BP, Brazil's OGX and Queiroz Galv?o Exploration and Production (QGEP) secured blocks in the area.In a 64-page document submitted to Ibama, reviewed by Reuters, Total said the environmental risks were fully understood.
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