Off the coast of Rio de Janeiro — below a mile of water and two miles of shifting rock, sand and salt — is an ultra deep sea of oil that could turn Brazil into the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, behind Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The country’s state-controlled oil company, Petrobras, expects to pump 4.9 million barrels a day from the country’s oil fields by 2020, with 40 percent of that coming from the seabed. One and a half million barrels will be bound for export markets.

The United States wants it, but China is getting it.

Less than a month after President Obama visited Brazil in March to make a pitch for oil, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was off to Beijing to sign oil contracts with two huge state-owned Chinese companies.

The deals are part of a growing oil relationship between the two countries that, thanks to a series of billion-dollar agreements, is giving China greater influence over Brazil’s oil frontier.

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