By Sabrina Valle

RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct 1 (Reuters)Golar Power Ltd has submitted the top bid for a highly-sought-after liquefied natural gas import terminal being leased by Brazil’s state-run energy firm Petrobras, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The terminal and regasification facility was offered under a wider government effort to end the state oil company’s monopoly in natural gas imports and processing. The Bahia state terminal can process 20 million cubic meters per day of LNG and includes a 45 kilometer pipeline.

A bid by Golar Power, a joint venture between Golar LNG GLNG.O and U.S. private-equity firm Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners, was the top offer received, the people said. Twelve companies applied to submit offers, including local subsidiaries of BP PLC BP.L, Total SA TOTF.PA and Repsol SA REP.MC.

On Monday, Petrobras separately said it would conduct an integrity risk assessment of Golar Power, which does business with the state-controlled producer. The results of that review potentially could exclude Golar Power from the competition.

The chief executive of another Golar LNG-Stonepeak venture, Hygo Energy Transition Ltd, stepped down this week after being cited in a bribery investigation. The former executive, Eduardo Antonello, has not been charged.

Golar, Petrobras, BP, Total and Repsol did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The new operator will be able to start importing fuel at the terminal early next year, Petrobras has previously said.

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the state oil company is formally known, opened the bids on Wednesday and is analyzing the offers before officially announcing a winner, the people said.

Any supplier deemed to be high risk cannot do business with the state-controlled producer, Petrobras said on Monday.

Golar Power is investing in a number of projects in Brazil betting on an increase in LNG usage, now mostly used for power generation. The fuel eventually could be a substitute for diesel, Golar has said.

(Reporting by Sabrina Valle; editing by Grant McCool)

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