One of the world's biggest oil producers has sought global PR expertise as it expands a controversial deep sea offshore drilling programme.
Against the backdrop of one of the world's worst oil spills, BP's ongoing Deepwater Horizon crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, state-owned Brazilian oil giant Petrobras this week announced it was stepping up efforts to tap some of the world's largest deposits of deep sea oil.
To deal with the media, Petrobras is understood to have handed out a $1m (£676k) global corporate comms and issues management brief.
Agency Hill & Knowlton is understood to have picked up the work, which involves strategic comms advice and proactive media work, and announcements around new projects and investments across the globe.
Petrobras is the world's biggest oil producer in waters deeper than 1,000 feet, with such deep drilling accounting for 20 per cent of oil production.
Recent media reports have suggested this level of activity leaves the firm more exposed than any other to the risk of an accident similar to the BP disaster.
It is thought that the search for a global PR agency predates the Deepwater Horizon incident.
Rather, it is related to Petrobras' international expansion plans - triggered by the firm finding about 380 million barrels of oil some three miles below the ocean floor off the Brazilian coast.
A competitive pitch was led out of the oil firm's Brazilian headquarters two weeks ago.
H&K is understood to have landed the brief this week, after the $1m in annual fees it pitched was considerably lower than rival agencies' estimates.
Senior sources at H&K said that they were unable to comment.
According to the Fortune 500 rankings, Petrobras is the 34th largest company in the world
Petrobras is the world's biggest oil producer in waters deeper than 1,000 feet
The firm is reportedly preparing a $25bn rights issue to raise funds to develop its 'pre-salt' oil fields.