French oil giant Total SA said Sept. 28 it has reached an agreement to transfer its equity interest in five exploration blocks in the ecologically sensitive Foz do Amazonas basin to Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras.

In 2018, Brazilian environmental agency Ibama rejected Total's application for an environmental license to drill in the basin, 120 km (74.56 miles) offshore Brazil, for a fourth time.

Geologists have said the area could contain up to 14 billion barrels of petroleum, more than the entire proven reserves in the Gulf of Mexico.

However environmentalists have tried to prevent oil exploration in Foz do Amazonas after a massive coral reef was discovered nearby.

Total, which had led a group including Britain's BP Plc and Petrobras in buying exploration blocks in the area, said in early September it would resign from its role as operator of the project.

Environmental organization Greenpeace said Sept. 28 that the Amazon river's reef would definitely be spared if BP and Petrobras also exit the project.